YouTube is notorious for censoring anything outside of its narrow worldview. Now the company has taken further steps to protect those in power by removing the real way users had to express their disapproval of certain content by effectively removing the “dislike” button as an option.
On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. Yet when you consider that YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing platform (with a staggering five billion videos watched every day and 300 hours of content uploaded every minute), one may start to look at it differently.
Over recent months and years, the “dislike” button has been used as a means of gauging public opinion on the content of the video itself. Take, for example, the recent documentary about Dr. Anthony Fauci. Other prominent examples include a recent interview with Gaige Grosskreutz, following his testimony at Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial, the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters, or even Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.
Somewhat ironically, YouTube’s own video announcing the changes had over 250,000 dislikes before the changes were implemented. “Another stupid and unnecessary change that only hurts the actual creators on this platform,” read one comment, upvoted a staggering 46,000 times. “YouTube is so out of touch it’s astonishing.”
There is also the impact on users, who will be unable to detect legitimate videos and warn others against those manipulating the platform with deceptive or dangerous content.
What makes YouTube’s announcement even worse is the way they are attempting to gaslight the public by claiming that the move is part of an effort to protect smaller creators from supposed targeted dislike campaigns aimed at damaging their brand.
In a blog post, the company claims it is intended to “create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves.” This may happen occasionally, but it is certainly not the real reason why.
This decision was made in order to protect the powerful and save them from the embarrassment of public disapproval. YouTube has no interest in serving small creators, many of whom struggle to make a living off the platform. Instead, they are looking out for the interests of governments, corporations, celebrities, and every other ally of theirs to face a public backlash.
Earlier this year, I penned a column exploring how most videos of Joe Biden received a far higher number of dislikes than they did likes. I wrote at the time that whatever the reason behind this trend, that “such aggressive signs of public disapproval of the world’s most popular video platform are not a good look for the Biden administration.”
Even one of the company’s co-founders, Jawed Karim, has weighed in on the decision by describing it as a “stupid” idea that is overwhelmingly opposed by users and could lead to the platform’s long-term decline.
“Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change?” he wrote on his channel. “There is a reason, but it’s not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed. Instead, there will be references to various studies. Studies that apparently contradict the common sense of every YouTuber.”
“When every YouTuber agrees that removing Dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is,” he later added. “Try again, Youtube.”