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YouTube boss defends controversial decision to stop counting dislikes

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

YouTube has defended its decision to remove its like count from videos, a decision it admits was “controversial”.

Last year, YouTube announced that it would no longer be showing the number of people who had clicked to downvote a certain video. It would still show the number of likes – and collect the dislike information to show to video creators and use in its algorithm – but it would stop people being able to see it.

Now in a letter from Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s chief executive, the company has defended the decision. It came amid discussion of a number of priorities for the coming year, which also includes the introduction of NFT features for creators.

Ms Wojcicki said that while many people supported the dislike button, others abused it, using it “for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch”. YouTube already stopped it appearing on the home page or search results, for the same reason.

“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,” she wrote. “These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment.”

The company initially experimented with removing the dislike button from some videos, and said it found no issues with viewership, but that it did reduce those attacks. As a result, it introduced the feature widely, she said.

In the same letter, addressed to creators, Ms Wojcicki said the company had been following developments in crypto, nonfungible tokens and other related technologies, and suggested they could come to YouTube. “We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” she wrote.

Other updates included a focus on Shorts – its TikTok-like videos, which it says have hit 5 trillion all-time views – as well as other upcoming updates such as a focus on the living room TV as a place to watch YouTube.

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