YouTube has removed its famous “dislike” button and counter following unprecedented levels of downvotes on President Biden’s White House channel videos. The removal of the feature was mooted in March. This week, it was announced that YouTube will be removing it.
When the Google-owned video streaming giant first announced the testing of new features surrounding the counter, an organization called 81m.org extrapolated data to determine the approval ratings of Biden’s channel. The site further noted that YouTube was manipulating dislikes to shield the early Biden administration from criticism.
When originally investigated by The National Pulse, it was found that within 6-12 hours of posting a video, YouTube began deleting dislikes from Biden’s videos. The firm continued to delete likes at regular intervals from that time onwards.
Twitter users were quick to note that the number of dislikes were removed. YouTube claimed, without evidence, that these dislikes were classified as “spam”.
Analysis by Zoe Phin found that the dislike counts were organic in nature, but the number of dislikes would reduce between the 6-12 hour mark after posting.
Analysis of other popular and mid-sized YouTubers revealed no manipulation in dislike counts.
Even with the dislike manipulation, The National Pulse found that all of Biden’s videos dislike count far outranked the likes. In one video “President Biden Reviews the Readiness of Military Troops in a Pass in Review” had twelve thousand (12,000) dislikes at the time of writing. The same video had only eighteen hundred (1,800) likes.
Almost a year later, the video only has forty-two hundred likes (4,200) and twenty thousand (20,000) dislikes. The inauguration video had only fifty-three thousand (5,300) likes to twenty-three thousand dislikes (23,000). The same video now has seventeen thousand likes (17,000) and one hundred and ten thousand dislikes (110,000).
A statement posted to YouTube’s Official Blog reads: “the dislike count will be private across YouTube, but the dislike button will remain.”
The platform stated the reasons for the removal were focused on “promoting respectful interactions between viewers and creators.” The statement went on to say that YouTube wants to reduce “dislike attacks – where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.” YouTube concludes by noting that this is just one of the steps being taken to reduce harassment on the platform.
Creators will still be able to view the dislike count in their YouTube Studio. The change started being rolled out on November 10th.