The world’s biggest video streaming platform YouTube, plans to remove the dislike counter from the public eye. The platform recently broke the news via their YouTube Twitter handle and retweeted using the YouTube Creators page. The news immediately broke Twitter and people flooded the tweet with quotes, letting YouTube know in an instant of how bad this idea is.
According to YouTube, they are doing so based on community feedback and preventing targeted dislike campaigns and protecting creators’ well-being. But is that really the truth? Is YouTube hiding the dislike button to protect creators well-being? The short answer is not exactly. The long answer is this.
The Purpose A Dislike Button Serves
YouTube is a social platform where creators make the content, and their audience interacts with them and each other. The several buttons, including the “Like,” “Dislike,” “Comments,” allow the audience to send their feedback to the creators for their content.
In a way, these buttons represent the proximity audience has to the creators. The many ways the audience can signal their approval/disapproval regarding a piece of content to its creator makes YouTube unique and different from other social media channels.
Additionally, the more elements a piece of media or art has, the more likely it is subjective. This is why in the case of a video, having public feedback is really important if a creator wants to improve.
And here itself, the YouTube argument abruptly fails. It said that creators will still be able to see the number of dislikes from their end as the count would only disappear from the users’ side.
But if the dislike counter is still visible from the creators’ side, how will it protect their mental health. And if they’re a target of a dislike campaign, users will use other avenues to vent their anger or displeasure for example by flooding the comment section. Furthermore, a disgruntled mob of users can even use a comment as a dislike counter. There is an infinite number of ways in which people can be mean on the internet.
YouTube is essentially trying to force people to be good by the use of design. It’ll never work. Here’s why.
Internet Is Not For Thin-Skinned
Every good thing comes with a down-side. You can rise to public fame on YouTube, but you cannot expect to be immune to the backlash of your community. They’re the ones giving you your power and fame.
YouTube is trying to police its users into being “nice” on the internet, a place where people can stay anonymous. Telling people to be nice or forcing them to be well behaved never works because humans don’t like to do what they’re told. It is simple psychology.
Additionally, forcing people to play nice makes them even more hostile in return. Such people find new avenues to be even more mischievous than they previously were.
Like it or not, YouTube is a public square, and no one can control the public. Even in an age of media manipulation, maintaining public favour is a 24/7 job and a pretty hard one at that.
Ironically, YouTube doesn’t understand that a dislike button works like a sponge or a sacrificial layer for creators. If a video is spammy or has false information, the users will massively dislike it and move ahead. But if the dislike button has no effect for other users to see, users will flood the comment section.
They will write mean things, and those mean things might end up hurting creators health even more. Having opinions in public is a brave act precisely because of the possibility of them being outrage at it. If there is no outrage, and everyone can put out their opinion in the public square without any backlash, then there is no bravery in that.
The Real Reason For Removing The Dislike Button
The real reason for removing the dislike button, according to the critics, is to protect the mainstream media in the US. Channels like CNN, CNBC, ABC, USA Today are getting their videos featuring the Biden administration heavily downvoted. The reason behind the downvoting is complex and hard to put down accurately.
However, the dislikes are from the real users, and that’s based upon the fact that their number is always in accordance with the number of views and the number of comments. Users don’t just leave dislikes but also comments explaining their plight under the current administration.
Critics of the matter claim that YouTube is becoming more corporate with each passing day. They protect the elitist channels, mainstream media and the government narrative at any cost; critics point out.
Creators with massive audiences like James Charles have been accused of grooming minors multiple times. Meanwhile, the YouTuber David Dobrik was recently accused of rape, following which he stepped down from the app he co-founded. Naturally, his audience massively disliked his videos as well.
Both these stars have been front and centre of major YouTube events like their awards show. Thus the recent attempt by YouTube to hide the dislike button seems to work in nulling the online backlash such creators receive for doing actions with real-world consequences.
In January 2018, the famous YouTuber Logan Paul filmed a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest. The massive dislikes and the comments warned the people before YouTube took down the video that it features a dead body.
Similarly, scams on YouTube are often recognized by their public dislike counter. Any video claiming to offer a free Netflix subscription with a massive dislike count is obviously fake and will probably install some form of malware in your computer.
In the same tune, there are video tutorials on different tasks like “How to build a PC.” If anyone accidentally followed the horrible PC build The Verge did a few years ago, they’d end up destroying their parts, costing them their hard-earned money. And the video wasn’t from a fringe website. It was from The Verge, which is as mainstream as a media can get.
The simple point is, every channel, be it mainstream or unknown, is bound to make mistakes, and public opinion is always required because it is the public the creators need to win over and never the other way around.