The Brief: YouTube announced that it will consider potential changes to its "dislike" function on videos.
YouTube Dislike Button
YouTube is one of the few social media platforms with both a “like” and a “dislike” button. These buttons allow viewers to quickly share their opinions on a video, and to see what other people thought of it. Presumably, a video’s ratio of likes to dislikes can represent how popular it is.
A “dislike mob” is a large number of people who organize to dislike a certain video on YouTube. Examples of this occurrence include the 2018 YouTube Rewind (15 million dislikes), a Gillette ad on toxic masculinity (1.3+ million dislikes), and the 2019 SuperBowl halftime show (750,000 dislikes). In these cases, mobs, which gain traction on forums and social media sites, were motivated by group-dislike for a video’s topic or content. These mobs included individuals who never actually watched the video. Dislike mobs could be used to intentionally bully someone or harm their reputation, but these large-scale cases appear to have been more about expressing mass-dislike for a video than anything else. Part of the mentality behind these dislike mobs is a desire to create a social media spectacle, similar to when an egg that beat Kylie Jenner for the most-liked Instagram post, but with a negative spin.
Dislike mobs become more of a serious issue when they are intentionally formed to attack a video or creator on the basis of something other than whether or people “liked” or “disliked” a video. In this way, the dislike button could be abused to try to make it so that a video is less-widely recommended and thus less circulated.
In a video on the Creator Insider YouTube channel, Tom Leung, the director of project management at YouTube, laid out several preliminary changes that YouTube is considering and asked for feedback from creators. These changes could include making ratings invisible by default. Currently, they can be made invisible, but default to be displayed. Another option could be to ask users who downvote to fill out a small survey, checking a box to indicate why they disliked the video, thus providing helpful feedback to creators and discouraging potential members of dislike mobs.
Leung brought up the possibility of removing the dislike button entirely but called it a “very extreme option” adding that it is “not super democratic in my opinion. YouTube is also considering allowing people to dislike videos, but not showing how many dislikes a video has, which would be similar to removing the button entirely.
As Tom Leung repeatedly clarified, these ideas have only been “lightly discussed” and YouTube has no immediate plans to implement them.
Some critics are attributing this announcement to the high number of dislikes on the YouTube-created 2018 YouTube Rewind video, which is the most-disliked YouTube to date.
Dislike Button Memes
YouTube comments and Reddit memes make it clear that some people have very strong opinions on the matter – mostly in favor of the dislike button. Some of these memes suggest that if the button were to be removed, people should comment “dislike” on videos they don’t like.