The move is an attempt to counter “dislike attacks”, whereby people conspire to drive up dislikes on a certain creator’s video.
YouTube’s creator liaison, Matt Koval, said in an announcement video that those engaging in such attacks were doing so “because they don’t like the creator or what they stand for.”
“Overall, it’s much less likely to cause stress and embarrassment if the count isn’t visible to the public,” Koval said.
“We’re making the dislike counts private across YouTube, but the dislike button is not going away. This change will start gradually rolling out today,” the company announced on Wednesday.
In the same statement, the company said: “We want to create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves. This is just one of many steps we are taking to continue to protect creators from harassment. Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here.”
Some critics have suggested that the main beneficiaries of the move would not be the small channels, but rather those with a large subscriber base and significant press attention. For example, the official channels for YouTube (whose 2018 Rewind video is supposed to be the most disliked on the platform) or the White House (which has been subjected to an increasing number of dislikes since the start of the Biden administration).
Koval dismisses this suggestion and claims that the company’s move “is about protecting all creators and making sure they have a chance to succeed and feel safe in doing so.” Koval also pointed out that “other platforms don’t even have a dislike button.”
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