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I became a meme: Confessions from viral social-media sensations

YouTube is trialing a new feature: positivity.

The video-sharing platform said Wednesday that some users may find the number of “dislikes” associated with their content now hidden. The move comes “in response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns,” YouTube said.

Videos will continue to provide a “dislike” button for viewers, and the number of clicks is still being tallied on the backend, the company clarified, but the counter will not be displayed to the public. YouTube hopes that the change will engender more goodwill as cyberbullies will no longer be emboldened by amassing dislikes on their target’s content.

“In response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns, we’re testing a few new designs that don’t show the public dislike count,” YouTube said via Twitter, adding that those included in the “small experiment” might notice that the number that usually appears below the thumbs-down icon is missing.

“Creators, you’ll still be able to see the exact number of likes and dislikes in YouTube Studio,” they continued. “For viewers, if you’re in the experiment, you can still like or dislike a video to share feedback with creators and help tune the recommendations you see on YouTube.”

YouTube garnered support from some 27,000 who “liked” the tweet. Still, many criticized the move as a disservice to viewers, and an insubstantial effort to improve the battered psyche of bullied creators.

“‘GUYS we’re going to SOLVE BULLYING by making it so that ONLY the victim can tell they’re being bullied! It’s GENIUS.’,” one Twitter user mocked.

“This isn’t helpful. Your[e] not fixing creator feedback, your[e] limiting user judgment,” said one critic, whose response was liked by 1,200 on Twitter. “As a user I need to be able to see what the ratio of a video is so I can see if it’s worth the time to watch or if I should move on to another video.”

Some in the thread have speculated that a number of videos uploaded by the White House during President Joe Biden’s administration were, in fact, the subject of a “targeted dislike campaign.” In contrast, footage shared by Donald Trump’s White House has received a suspiciously inflated ratio of “likes” to “dislikes.” This, according to one follower, may have inspired YouTube to attempt to restore balance.

Earlier this month, another social-video platform, TikTok, rolled out a number of new features to “foster kindness and community,” they claimed. The changes include an option for users to “filter” comments, allowing for more control over which comments appear beneath the clip.

The app also added a prompt for commenters to “reconsider posting a comment that may be inappropriate or unkind.”

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