Last week, video-sharing social media platform YouTube announced a major change in the social functions of their videos. Going forward, dislike totals on videos would be completely hidden, while like totals remain visible. Users will still be able to dislike videos, but they won’t be able to see precisely how many dislikes there have been. This move has drawn widespread criticism from YouTube’s userbase, who have noted that removing dislikes will make it much harder to differentiate good videos from bad, which in turn will allow low-quality content to creep into peoples’ feeds. Some have also accused YouTube of pursuing corporates interests over user interests, as heavily commercialized videos tend to receive a lot of dislikes.
Recently, Jawed Karim, one of the original co-founders of YouTube, chimed in with his own thoughts and disappointments on the matter. “Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change? There is a reason, but it’s not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed,” Karim wrote in the description of the first YouTube video, which he frequently uses as an opinion board. “The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good.”
YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim changed the description of the first video ever uploaded to the platform to protest the decision to get rid of the dislike button.
Subtle, but effective. pic.twitter.com/CVZZLEqsWu
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) November 16, 2021
“The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform,” writes Karim. “Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It can’t be. In fact, most of it is not good. And that’s OK. […] The process works, and there’s a name for it: the wisdom of the crowds. The process breaks when the platform interferes with it. Then, the platform invariably declines. Does YouTube want to become a place where everything is mediocre?”