YouTube today announced its decision to make the âdislikeâ account private on videos on its platform. The decision is likely to be controversial given the extent of its impact on the public’s visibility of receiving a video. But YouTube believes the change will better protect its creators from harassment and reduce the threat of what it calls “anti-liking attacks” – essentially, when a group teams up to increase the number of dislikes a woman receives. video.
The company claims that while the dislike number will not be visible to the public, it is not removing the dislike button itself. Users can always click the thumbs down button on videos to report their dislike to creators privately. Meanwhile, creators will be able to track their dislikes in YouTube Studio alongside other analysis on their video’s performance, if they so choose.
The change follows an experiment YouTube conducted earlier this year to determine whether these types of changes would reduce aversion attacks and harassment from creators.
At the time, YouTube explained that the number of public dislikes can affect the well-being of creators and can motivate targeted campaigns to add dislikes to videos. While this is true, dislikes can also serve as a signal to others when the videos are click-trap, spam, or deceptive, which can be helpful.
YouTube said it has also heard from small creators and others who are just starting out on the platform that they believe are being unfairly targeted by anti-aversion attacks. Experience confirmed this to be true: Creators with smaller channels were targeted more by aversion attacks than larger creators.
However, YouTube declined to share specific details or data collected during these experiments when TechCrunch requested. But he said he ran his tests for “several months” and performed “a thorough impact analysis” on how the changes affected both users and creators.
The company had experimented with different designs to remove the dislikes count, including one where the word “Dislikes” appeared under the thumbs down button instead of the dislikes count. That’s the design the company has now settled into, which is less of a disruptive change to the row of engagement buttons beneath a video.
The company wouldn’t be the first major platform to experiment with the idea of ââreducing the public visibility of signals that convey user sentiment. For similar reasons related to mental health, Instagram began tests a few years ago to hide its number of likes around the world. He believed that the focus on making Likes could be detrimental to his community and could make creators less comfortable expressing themselves on the platform. In the end, however, neither Facebook nor Instagram were able to fully commit to a decision and instead put the power of hiding likes under user control – a move that effectively maintained the status quo. intact.
YouTube’s changes to the ‘dislikes’ tally come at a time when the public has questioned big tech and its impact on mental health, especially when it comes to minors. Companies have rethought how their systems are designed to target and influence their user base, as well as the kind of changes they can make ahead of upcoming regulations. In a number of markets, lawmakers have coached technical executives to hearings – YouTube included – and are drafting legislation to rule over some of the more problematic pieces of technology. Mental health is only one area of ââregulatory focus, however, with ad targeting, privacy, algorithmic stimulation of disinformation and more.
In the case of YouTube, the company has attempted to anticipate some of the changes required by implementing increased privacy protections and features for users ages 13 to 17, while reducing the potential for monetization of “unhealthy” content. Â»For children. But the bigger shift in the marketplace is also pushing companies to consider other areas of their platforms that are potentially toxic to large groups of people.
That said, YouTube told TechCrunch that today’s removal of the number of aversions is not driven by any regulatory changes, but rather by its support for creators.
“We are making this change proactively because YouTube has a responsibility to protect creators, especially small creators, from harassment and anti-aversion attacks,” said a spokesperson.
The company, of course, also deploys this when the battle for creative talent becomes extremely competitive among the tech giants. Today’s social platforms are establishing funds to retain their top creators amid heightened competition, especially the growing threat from TikTok. This year, YouTube announced a $ 100 million creation fund to launch its abbreviated video platform, for example. And, over the past year, it has introduced several new characteristics and Strategies aimed at improving the creator’s experience.
The changes to the number of aversions will be rolled out globally on the YouTube platform starting today, including across devices and across the web.