November 27, 2020

YouTube should not remove dislike button

Mob Rule. Spam. That is what YouTube administration says is ruining its video sharing platform. Their response to this epidemic is to remove the dislike button. Removing a peaceful and harmless means of expressing negative feelings is probably the worst solution addressing negative attitude towards Youtube by users.

Every December since 2010, YouTube recaps the top trends, video, and music in a thumbnail titled Rewind”. The videos are supposed to be nostalgic and unify users with common themes of pop culture. The 2010 rewind was the number one video of that year and rewind has had high ratings in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Despite the good intentions, the videos are usually labeled as “cringy” by the dreaded comment section. “YouTube Rewind 2018 Everyone Controls Rewind” however became the most disliked video in YouTube history amassing over 15.5 million dislikes.

The unpopularity with users stemmed from lack of good content and obscure trending. One example, critics thought the video focused too much on game streaming from the battle royale style video game Fortnite. The video also came under fire for not featuring the most popular YouTube channels like PewDiePie and Shane Dawson. Most notably, however, the video lacked any mention of the deaths of celebrities Stan Lee, Stephen Hawking and Avicii.

In a recent public statement, YouTube is discussing ways to prevent  “dislike mobs” from running rampant. It could turn off rating counts by default, require an explanation for a dislike, remove just the dislike count or even remove dislikes altogether.

I am particularly concerned about what this means for free speech. The internet has always been, for better or worse, a platform for people to share ideas and join communities. Until recently YouTube has perfected this medium of information sharing. The like and dislike button are features allowing users to judge what content they want to see.

The irony of “Everyone Controls Rewind” is that very few YouTubers felt they had controlled the content. The dislike ratio was a message to those up top, and YouTube didn’t listen.

The internet has always been a place where people find their community. Makeup artists, gamers, folk music fanatics, liberals, conservatives; everyone can create content to give to the world and find like-minded people.

The democratic aspect comes with the ‘like’ and the ‘dislike’ to determine popularity. More likes determine what users enjoy and dislikes the opposite. Thus, the dichotomy between likes and dislikes on YouTube theoretically determine the content we see on a daily basis.

YouTube’s move to curb “mobs” of dislikes on highly viewed videos is, in my view, a bad move and will generate more disdain for the website. The YouTube monopoly, of course, has a responsibility to its users. On the corporate level, I understand Youtube’s move. The move is to curb negativity on their site and/or curb hate and intolerance.

Instead, the removal of the dislike button highlights a greater problem of video sharing. The idea of a free internet is the fact it is indeed an anonymous platform for all people. The idea that content created by artists and bloggers then popularity is chosen freely by the people is now infringed by the latest movement from YouTube admin.


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