The discussion of how social media affects mental health has long been prevalent. However, now, social media platforms are beginning to question how their own applications are harmful to users. For instance, Instagram was the first platform to announce early on their decision to gradually hide likes and comments. YouTube has a similar incentive. On March 30, 2021, YouTube announced its decision to hide public dislikes due to the well-being of creators and to decrease “targeted dislike campaigns.”
Specifics about the experiment
Though YouTube is experimenting with hiding dislikes, YouTube states:
Creators, you’ll still be able to see the exact number of likes and dislikes in YouTube Studio. For viewers, if you’re in the experiment, you can still like or dislike a video to share feedback with creators and help tune the recommendations you see on YouTube.
In other words, the dislike button is not being removed. YouTube is experimenting with several different designs to hide the number of dislikes to the public. As you can see from their announcement, the dislike button is still there, just the number of dislikes is gone.
Why hide dislikes?
In a 2019 video that YouTube posted, the platform mentioned their intention to experiment with hiding dislikes due to “dislike mobs.” Dislike mobs are groups of people who target creators and dislike their videos without even watching them. This essentially could harm the creator’s channel as YouTube won’t recommend their videos to users. Additionally, if creators are planning on working with brands, dislikes outweighing likes could harm the creator’s chances of working with future brands or promoting the video.
Therefore, two years later, YouTube announced their decision to once again experiment with hiding dislikes. But, this time, in addition to “targeted dislike campaigns,” the platform noted they are doing so for users’ well-being. Seeing the number of people who ‘dislike’ your content is going to affect you. So, as a result, YouTube is trying out different models that would decrease viewers’ disliking habits.
Though YouTube is currently experimenting with hiding dislikes, nothing is final yet. Perhaps the platform will choose for the dislike button to remain visible to both creators and viewers.
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