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Should social media sites have dislike buttons?

Is there a place for dislike buttons in social media as we know it today? Do dislikes even serve a purpose? When you examine the most important social media platforms widely used today, you get mixed results.

Facebook and Instagram do not have a dislike button. Reddit has an upvote button and YouTube has a dislike button. Twitter doesn’t have a dislike button, but that could change as soon as it runs a test that allows some users to downvote it.

Let’s look at some pros and cons of the platforms and their dislike button.

Advantages of the Dislike button hiding its digits

YouTube recently made waves when it decided to hide the dislike number. The dislike button is still there and visible. You can click on it and dislike a video. However, the number of dislikes is hidden. You only see the number of likes.

Let’s look at the benefits of not seeing the number of dislikes, starting with YouTube.

Hate campaigns leave less impact

Hate campaigns are one of the main reasons shared by YouTube for hiding the number of dislikes.

The company explained that hate campaigns against creators and their content have always been part of YouTube culture and that it wanted to do something about it.

Since it couldn’t realistically find a way to stop the campaigns themselves, YouTube decided to target the consequence they caused: the number of likes.

Most of the people behind hate campaigns feed off the negativity they leave behind. So, by removing the visual confirmation that they left a mark on a creator’s video, they should have no reason to be there and dislike it in the first place. At least, that’s what YouTube hopes.

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However, these people can still leave negative feedback. So, YouTube effectively only removed one of the tools from their belt.

Additionally, creators of disliked videos can still see their count in their analytics. These are the viewers who have no concept of numbers.

Less stress when posting

When you post on YouTube, no matter what your posts are about, you expose yourself to criticism from others. Sometimes this can cause so much stress and anxiety that you put off posting indefinitely.

With the new policy of not showing dislike counts, however, this doesn’t have to be as big of an issue as it used to be.

Of course, dislikes will still be present in your analytics, but they won’t be visible to everyone. And, unless you’re looking for them, they won’t affect you. So it can make publishing a much more stress-free experience.

It helps your mental health

Going from the previous point, not seeing the number of videos you dislike on the videos you choose to share with the world can be good for your mental health, in general.

Stress and anxiety don’t just occur at posting time. On the contrary, they can harm every step of your YouTube experience. Sure, you may be nervous about hitting “publish” on your video, but those nerves may also be with you when you check out the video later.

Plus, it goes beyond just affecting the poster.

A lack of visible dislikes can spare the sanity of more than the person who shared the video. It can also be good for their audience.

If you are a fan of the YouTuber who is the victim of a hate campaign, and you see the growing number of dislikes for his video, the feeling that it is undeserved, this can also affect your mental health.

By hiding the number of likes, YouTube essentially saves the creator and their fanbase the stress, anxiety, and all the other negative emotions that can come from a hate campaign.

Drawbacks to the Dislike button hiding its digits

Let’s talk about the negatives that follow the action of hiding the number of dislikes on posts.

You cannot discern the usefulness

By hiding dislikes, you can’t tell if a video is helpful or not at a glance.

Many people go to YouTube looking for tutorials, guides, and examples on how to do certain things. When you find a video that seems to give you what you’re looking for, it can be really helpful to check how many videos you don’t like.

If there are more dislikes than likes, that’s a good indication that the video isn’t helpful at all. This way, you don’t waste time watching it and can immediately search for another video that fits the bill better.

By hiding the dislikes, YouTube essentially removed this handy trick, and now you can’t tell if a video is good or bad right off the bat.

You can’t tell if it’s worth seeing

When dislikes aren’t visible, you can’t assess whether a video is worth your time.

The like/dislike ratio is a good metric for deciding whether certain videos are up to your viewing standards. When that’s removed, you might get sucked into watching something that isn’t worth watching.

Many YouTube viewers use the like/dislike ratio to decide whether to watch a video or skip to another. When you can’t use this ratio to make your judgment, you might be fooled into watching something that’s wasting your time.

Is it the right decision to have or hide dislikes?

Another important question to consider is whether having a dislike button is even suitable for the platform.

Does it make sense to have a dislike button, to remove it, or to hide the countdown? Let’s take two examples: Twitter and Reddit.

Does this make sense for the platform?

Twitter is dipping its toes into the dislike pool by introducing an upvoting system.

Since its arrival on the social media scene, Twitter has historically had nothing in the vein of a dislike button. However, he is potentially looking to change that.

In July 2021, the company announced on its platform that it was testing adding a way for users to vote up and down on posts. You can dismiss posts, but the number of downvotes a post gets would only be visible to the poster itself, much like how it works with YouTube and its dislike button.

The tweet shared by Twitter was adamant: “This is not a dislike button.”

The company also assured that this was just a test to see what people wanted, and it was not decided if the change would follow or if the company would stick with it. If you don’t like a post, you have the option to ignore and unlike it, or you can reply or quote the retweet and share your opinion about it. So, does a “dislike” button make sense?

You can’t imagine the platform without it

How not to have a “I don’t like” button if it is an integral part of the platform?

Since its inception, Reddit has had upvote and downvote buttons. People use downvoting to say the post was bad, unoriginal, stolen, not on topic, or for a myriad of other reasons. Reddit without downvotes wouldn’t be Reddit at all, and users love the platforms as they are.

Going to Reddit today, you will find that he has hidden the exact number of the downvote button, like YouTube. But, he also hid the number of upvotes. You can still click any button you want, but you won’t see the exact number of upvotes and downvotes. Instead, you get the sum total of the two hovering in the middle.

Downvoting is such a big part of Reddit that Twitter’s recent attempt to enforce a downvoting system on its platform has people comparing the two social media sites.

Reddit needs the balance of upvotes and downvotes to be the platform people signed up to use. So, instead of removing the button entirely, it chose to hide the number of the two buttons it offers.

Are hidden aversions the future?

YouTube and Reddit chose to hide the dislike count. Twitter is looking to introduce a dislike system. Facebook had a dislike button but chose to remove it.

There is no clear answer yet as to whether dislikes should remain a part of social media or not. As clearly seen, there are both pros and cons to removing the dislike count under a post.


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