YouTube’s decision to remove the Dislike button is said to be done in an endeavor to help video creators. But from the perspective of absorbing media, it will have a far-reaching negative impact.
YouTube recently decided to remove the Dislike button from underneath YouTube videos. For the creators of these videos, that would offer them substantial relief since they no longer have to worry about being publicly criticized. But there is a reason the Dislike button existed — and a reason it lasted this long.
YouTube is different from Facebook insofar as when you absorb content on the platform, you are always remaining on the platform. This means the responsibility for the content falls squarely on YouTube rather than third-party publications for what content they offer. For Facebook, this made things easy given that any publication that wants to take its job seriously has to be better than spam if it’s to gain traffic from the major traffic sources such as Google, and there aren’t enough hours in a day to create one spam article for Facebook and one dependable copy for Google. This meant that Facebook would automatically benefit from publications linking directly to their Facebook walls the best version of themselves as possible. There were some early grievances along the way, which people commonly described as “clickbait” but all things considered, linking through to clickbait on other domains is not as big of a deal as being the domain itself. YouTube is the domain that hosts all the videos to be found on its site, so it bears much more of the burden of responsibility when it comes to the content it shows.
What the Dislike button did until now was give the audience the ability to see that while viral content had become popular, the world hadn’t gone wholly insane. For instance, if a video promoted the gold standard, no money expansion, and the idea that the capitalist system we live in should be the equivalent of baseball card collecting in that he who has the card has the only glory, it might actually receive 500,000 likes, but you could always rest assured many people were aware of the nonsense in the video, thanks to the fact that 700,000 had disliked the idea. Now, though, things aren’t going to be nearly as clear. Even for veterans of the online world, they wouldn’t be human if seeing a video with 500,000 likes and 0 dislikes wasn’t intimidating; and this is the world now cast upon us. How will I handle it? Probably with a few more glasses of Coca-Cola. How will those who don’t spend all day in front of the internet handle it? Hopefully without more trips to the mental asylum.