Reports Of YouTube's Dislike Button's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
For all you denizens of the internet lurking in the shadows, eager to spread angst, you're getting an early Christmas present. In November, YouTube announced it was axing the dislike feature on its videos, removing it from any eyes but those of the creator. This launched a ripple of condemnation and hyperbolic outrage on social media. Jawed Karim, a.k.a. one of the guys who started YouTube, led the chorus of jeers, asserting it went against everything the company originally stood for and predicting it would begin a long process of metastasizing mediocrity. He even invoked the guy who blinked in morse code to communicate secret North Vietnamese torture camps.
To which we can only scratch our heads and wonder if Mr. Karim has gone on the platform in the last decade and witnessed the unending, daily torture of unboxing, ASMR, mukbang, and make-up tutorials.
Affronts against democracy aside, the deletion of the feature only added to the perception that YouTube was out of touch with average users. Users who've long complained of arbitrary ToS regulations that frequently target smaller creators and impenetrable algorithms dubbed the "black box," which is little more than a digital roulette wheel to outsiders. That is when it's not rigged to land on Jimmy Fallon videos or a trailer for whatever Sony movie is releasing this week. A coincidence, we're sure.
If we had to single out the precise video that may have compelled Google to snuff the thumbs-down button, it would be the year-ending 2018 compilation made by YouTube. A quick survey of ratioed and negatively-received videos on the platform, and you can't help but notice a trend. Beating out Justin Bieber's music video for "Baby" and the "Baby Shark" video is the notorious "YouTube Rewind 2018." ("YouTube Rewind 2019" sits at an impressive #5 spot). We're not endorsing conspiracy theories, but this all seems a little fishy. When their most visible PR project of the year becomes an instant laughingstock, it makes sense YouTube would take their ball and go home (Unlike After Earth, Will can't blame M. Night Shyamalan.):
Internet haters, wipe those tears away and take solace. Headlines that purport that the tech giant has "removed" dislikes are a little clickbaity. Yes, you can't see the thumbs-downs anymore with vanilla settings, but that doesn't actually mean that they're extinct. In fact, with a simple Chrome app or any number of other extensions, you can see the dislike counter is alive and well; it's just living under witness protection or house arrest, whichever metaphor you prefer.
According to Newsweek, the dislike button is still completely operational. Smashing the hate button will still reflect on future videos that the algorithm shows you. You just won't be able to wallow in the misery of the content creators with others. Whether or not that is a good thing or not is still up for debate. "Weaponized" downvotes may be real, but that is the nature of social media. Those who really don't care and prefer to stay oblivious won't ever know everybody hates their computer-building guide ... until they get deluged by people mocking them on other platforms.
Leading to the inevitable question: Did this really solve anything? Nah. Tenacious haters will find new ways to humiliate and harass people (they always do), and the average viewer will have no immediate clue if they are watching a real video or a scam since comments can be disabled at the creator's whim. It would have been nicer if YouTube focused on the out-of-control DMCA situation or those creepy kids' videos instead, but they had different priorities. We should just be happy that the downvote is intact. Sadly, the sarcastic holiday tradition of the "cringey" Rewind video is not. We'll have to make do with ugly sweaters and fruitcakes to fill the void.
To reiterate, the dislike button is not dead. It was just dormant, but now gloriously resurrected like Jesus rising back from the "dead" on Christmas morning to go beat up the money lenders who sent the lepers to kill him with the poisoned bread at the last supper. Yeah, we slept through Sunday school, but we got the gist of the story. Merry Christmas.
Top Image: Kaufdex/Pixabay