We might as well just start out with the tweet from YouTube:
👍👎 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. If you're part of this small experiment, you might spot one of these designs in the coming weeks (example below!). pic.twitter.com/aemrIcnrbx
— YouTube (@YouTube) March 30, 2021
If you’d like to read the replies, you’ll quickly be able to notice that there’s almost no support for this change from individuals. That’s because this is flat-out an anti-consumer move on YouTube’s part. The platform already allows creators to hide dislikes, so this new change is only good for large corporations that don’t want their dislikes to be seen publicly. Now they won’t have to hide their dislikes, which is a sign that they have an unpopular video or are, themselves, unpopular.
Let’s take, for example, the situation of Lucasfilm. If you’ve been following Kathleen Kennedy’s company within Disney, you probably know that they have become very unpopular because they’ve been making very unpopular decisions and putting out unpopular content. While seeing dislikes on a video would signal to a consumer that something is going on that is causing consumers to dislike videos, it’s very much in Disney and Lucasfilm’s interests to hide that information. That removes consumers’ ability to veto their decisions in a small way.
So while the latest Lucasfilm YouTube video has more than three times as many dislikes as likes, YouTube’s changes would hide this from consumers:
This continues a trend of anti-consumer and anti-information steps being taken in rapid succession by companies that have aligned themselves with totalitarian leaning sociopolitical movements. Disney, which has worked very closely with the Chinese Communist Party, has taken steps that harm movie theaters, while bolstering their streaming service. But theaters permit customers to vote for movies with their wallets, while streaming services like Disney+ just take a consumer’s money while essentially hiding the true stats for viewership of content. Similarly, both YouTube and Twitter have been taking concerted steps in the past 48 hours against users of a particular political viewpoint in a way that makes it difficult for users to appeal their decisions.
The power of the internet is immense, and just like the invention of fire radically changed human behavior, the internet can be a force for unbelievable good and unbelievable harm. It can open up all human knowledge to any person’s cell phone, or it can be used by oppressive dictatorships to control everything a person is supposed to believe. I suppose fire was the same in that it cooked your food and kept you warm, but could also be used to burn down entire villages.
Unfortunately, removing the dislike option from YouTube might just be another example of big tech oligarchies playing with fire. My vote is in favor of consumer feedback and the public display of it.
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