Will YouTube Remove “Dislike” Icon From Public View?

As reported on TechCrunch and elsewhere, YouTube is considering hiding the dislike count from videos posted on their platform. They are currently running tests and if they decide to go ahead with this, the dislike icon will still appear and be clickable, but only the content creator will be able to see the count. Presumably, the “like” count will still be publicly viewable.

YouTube claims the idea is based on creator feedback, saying content creators complained that viewing the dislikes affected their “well being.” This is a rather thin justification, since creators would still see the dislike count internally, it just wouldn’t be public. Perhaps by not making the count public, people will not have the incentive to click the dislike icon?

Considering how valuable the dislike count can be towards alerting people to videos that are misleading or clickbait, concern about content creator “well being” seems like an excuse. What’s really going on could be an attempt to suppress “dislike mobs” that descend on select videos to pump up the dislike counts. But so what? And why now?

What YouTube is considering has to be considered in the context of what YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and all the major online communications platforms have been doing since at least 2016, which is to consciously manipulate public opinion. Stuck with a business model that rewards anything that is gross or offensive, they’ve taken it upon themselves to compensate by censoring political speech they disagree with and promoting political speech they support.

In this context, the timing is suspect. As Paul Joseph Watson observed in a recent Tweet, “Official White House YouTube team gonna be overjoyed at this.” A quick look at the official White House YouTube channel shows exactly what Watson is getting at. The dislike counts on Biden’s videos consistently outnumber the like counts by a ratio of between five and ten-to-one.

A Politifact analysis from January 2021 actually confirms that already, “YouTube may have removed ‘spam’ dislikes from a video posted by the White House after President Joe Biden took office.” It’s a safe bet that YouTube never removed any “spam” dislikes from Trump’s official videos.

Big tech, certainly including YouTube, has gone to a lot of trouble to protect the interests of Democratic candidates and causes, and to disparage and suppress dissenting voices. That makes it entirely plausible that hiding the dislike count will be a decision motivated at least in part by a wish to protect the president they got elected from any unnecessary embarrassment.

 *   *   *