YouTube CEO defends hiding dislike count

Don’t count on YouTube to backtrack on hiding the dislike count. On Tuesday, the video platform’s CEO defended the change by downplaying the dislike count’s usefulness.

“Some of you mention dislikes help you decide what to watch,” said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. “But dislikes were never shown to people on the homepage, search results, up next screen, where users were most likely to choose a video.”

Wojcicki made the statement while discussing the platform’s priorities for 2022. She acknowledged that the November decision to hide dislike counts on videos was “controversial.” But she argued it was the right action to take, citing the need to stop online harassment.

“We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s video,” she said. “And these dislike attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started.”

In addition, Wojcicki said the dislike count wasn’t the best barometer to determine a video’s quality. “People dislike videos for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch,” she wrote in a related blog post.

Critics disagree. Among them are YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, who called the decision to hide the dislike count a “stupid idea” back in November. “The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It can’t be. In fact, most of it is not good,” he wrote.

Karim also predicted hiding the dislike count will cause interest in YouTube to fall. However, in Tuesday’s post, Wojcicki said viewership on YouTube isn’t expected to change, citing the company’s internal research. “Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks,” she wrote.

If you must have the dislike count, a third-party developer came up with a browser extension that can re-add the function to your YouTube videos. The data for the extension comes from archived dislike stats taken directly from Google and from other users who’ve installed the extension. Otherwise only a video’s creator can see the dislike counts on a video.

Source: PCMag