The Real Reason Why YouTube Removed Dislikes on All VideosReading Time: 2 minutes
YouTube controversially removed the public dislike count from videos, but it’s unlikely to reverse the change. Here’s why.
In November 2021, YouTube removed the public dislike count from all of its videos. While creators can still see the number of dislikes within YouTube Studio, viewers can only see how many likes a video has received.
The change was controversial, with many popular YouTubers speaking out. So why did YouTube remove dislikes? Let’s explore.
Why Did YouTube Hide Dislikes?
No matter your device, no matter the video, you can’t see dislikes on YouTube. While the count is still tracked in the backend, and disliking a video will inform your video recommendations, you won’t know how many other people have disliked a video.
In March 2021, YouTube ran an experiment on a small group to test the impact of removing the dislike count. In November of the same year, dislikes were hidden for everyone. On the YouTube Blog, the company’s reason for hiding dislikes was because it claimed there was an increase in creators who were being unfairly targeted by dislikes.
In January 2022, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published a letter on the YouTube Blog to address the company’s plans for 2022. Within it, she acknowledged that removing dislikes was controversial. Wojcicki stated that judging a video on its dislikes was never an accurate way to decide what to watch, which is why YouTube never showed them on the homepage, search results, or Up Next screens.
She also reiterated the company’s stance for why it removed dislikes:
We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment.
Wojcicki went on to write that, while experimenting with this change, YouTube didn’t see any meaningful difference in viewership whether there was a public dislike count or not.
Will the Dislike Count Return to YouTube?
In April 2022, Wojcicki spoke to YouTuber Ludwig in a video on his channel entitled Confronting the CEO of YouTube. The pair discussed a host of topics, including why YouTube removed the dislike count. In the chat, Wojcicki’s reason for the change remained the same: dislikes were harming small creators.
Wojcicki acknowledged that the team knew that removing dislikes wouldn’t be widely well received, but that the company reviewed lots of feedback post-release and didn’t encounter any concerns that it hadn’t already considered.
Wojcicki mentioned that YouTube has reversed decisions in the future, but it’s clear that the dislike counter isn’t coming back any time soon—even though many believe that YouTube removing dislikes harmed the community.
Was YouTube Right to Remove Dislikes?
Removing dislikes may protect some creators, but it doesn’t consider the viewer experience. There’s no easy way to assess the quality of a video before you watch. For example, a visible dislike count helped combat against dodgy tutorials or clickbait. Besides, trolls are more likely to target small creators through comments than the dislike button.
Whether you believe YouTube was right to remove dislikes or not, the ship has sailed. It’ll likely go down in the platform’s history as one of the most questionable changes.