YouTube announced today that they will start testing what could end up being a significant change in the video platform: It will try to hide the dislike of videos from public viewing. The company says it will run a “small experiment” where it will try out a few different designs where dislike numbers are no longer displayed, but no one will see the “dislike” button even removed completely.
The company announced the tests on Twitter, but further explains in a post in a community forum that the goal is not to remove the ability for users to signal that they do not like a video – the creators will still have access to the video’s likes and dislikes from YouTube Studio and dislike will still help the YouTube recommendation algorithms.
Instead, YouTube says the idea of trying to hide dislikes is based on feedback from creators.
“We have heard from the creators that the audience does not like counts, can affect their well-being and can motivate to a targeted campaign with dislikes on a creator video,”
Of course, there may be some sort of mob mentality that accompanies the use of the Like and Dislike buttons on YouTube. But seeing the number of dislikes can also help signal to others when videos are clickbait, spam or misleading, which can be helpful.
YouTube unveiled a potential design that was tested that simply shows the same button layout, but instead of a series of dislikes, the word “Dislikes” appears below the thumb down icon.
There will be no way to opt out of the test if you see the changes appear when you are logged in to YouTube – you will only be able to share feedback, the company notes.
To be clear, however, YouTube is not obligated to remove the number of dislikes for everyone at this time. The feedback from this test will help inform YouTube about, when or how it will release designs like this more widely.
YouTube would not be the first to experiment with removing calculations from a social app. Instagram has also tested removing the number of positive engagements (Likes), to make the experience feel more authentic and less about chasing influence. And this year, Facebook removed the “Like” button from Facebook pages, in favor of the more accurate “Followers” poll. In the case of removing only the number of dislikes and not likes, viewers may misunderstand the real popularity of the video.
The company told TechCrunch that the tests will run globally over the next few weeks on Android and iOS as it gathers feedback from a handful of designs.
Updated 30.03.21, 18.00 a to add details about launch.