We asked influencers and marketing agencies about YouTube disabling dislike count from public view and Instagram testing time-outs, here’s what they had to say

  • The video streaming giant YouTube announced last week that it is removing its ‘dislike’ counts on videos for public across its platform.
  • In other news, Instagram is testing a new feature that helps users take quick breaks from its platform.
  • We speak to content creators and influencer marketing experts to find out what this means for budding creators and how can social media platforms create a safer space for its users.

A decade ago, when we didn’t have internet connection or a desktop at home, I would walk to the nearest cybercafe to check my Facebook account and see what my junior college friends were up to. I would pay Rs 10 for half an hour’s time to share memes on Facebook. The last 10 minutes were always dedicated to playing Candy Crush on the platform and inviting my friends to beat my score. Today, I spend at least an hour on Instagram, mindlessly scrolling through the Reels or watching reviews on YouTube of films that I never end up watching. The next morning, I wake up with a lot of regret for wasting my time. It is not just about my daily dose of entertainment, social media has grown to be an extension of my body and identity.

A lot of businesses also rely on social media for their income and when these social media platforms face outages, brands, content creators and advertising agencies enter into a state of panic and end up losing a lot of ad monnies. During the pandemic, the number of small and medium-sized businesses that depend on social media also increased. Today, just a small negative comment from a troll can spiral into a boycott trend on Twitter and just any piece of content can attract millions of dislikes on YouTube. What comes across as just a comment, can have a long-lasting impact on creators, especially on people struggling with impostor syndrome. So, as social media becomes an important money-making tool for the economy, should there be more checks in place?

Last week, social media platforms took a few steps in the right direction. The intent is to create a safer space for its users and regular creators.

In a move to help keep small creators stay safe from being targeted by dislike attacks and online bullying, social media platform YouTube announced last week that it would be making its dislike count private. Viewers can still dislike a video but it will be visible only to the YouTube creators. With this tiny dislike button, not only does the creator feel demotivated, their creativity quotient is questioned with no possible explanation. It can probably affect their relationship with a brand. If a branded content piece ends up getting more dislikes than likes, it can change a creator’s relationship with their brands.

On the other hand, Instagram is testing a new feature that helps users take quick breaks from its platform. Instagram head Adam Mosseri also posted a short video on Twitter, explaining the new feature. He mentioned that the users can enable in-app reminders after a duration of their choosing. If the testing goes smoothly, Instagram will roll out the new feature in December.

We asked content creators, influencers and their marketing agencies about these updates and thoughts on building virtual communities safer for users, here’s what they had to say:

Madan Gowri, South India’s Biggest YouTuber, Digital Content Creator and Founder of Kokru:

Personally, I feel these measures by social media companies are a mixed bag. While I encourage the “Take a break” feature in Instagram and YouTube, I find the removal of the Dislike button as hitting on the YouTube community. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime, YouTube is a platform made by a community of creators and users. As a user when someone watches the number of likes and dislikes they can immediately understand how this content has performed among the audience. Removing it from public view is denying the opportunity for the user to view what really the public thinks about the content. Also, when someone wants to show something negative, instead of disliking it, they will go directly to the comments section which is more toxic!

Niyati Mavinkurve aka Niyu, Digital Content Creator and Co-founder of Let’s Make You Rich:

Any steps that a social media platform can take to make the platform healthier is welcome. One suggestion I have for social media platforms to make safe spaces for creators and users is to check the content that people post as comments and then remind them if the content is harsh. This is not an original idea, but I think it would help if AI asked people to rethink their comments just once.

I think it would positively affect the influencer and content creation industry if people took breaks from social media frequently. Constantly consuming content overwhelms the brain and unfortunately, we’ve trained our brains to seek reward and validation with numbers like the like counts and follower counts. So, if people took time off social media, it would help them mentally not rely on numbers to get happiness. Of course, this is provided people actually use the feature to take frequent breaks.

Tony Kakkar, Singer, Composer and Lyricist:

To build social media space safer, we need immediate blocking of the abusive and harassing comments. To find a way of deleting those users who are there to only speak badly or bully someone. In my opinion, the of winning everything is through positivity only by giving less importance to dislike counts now Youtube has proved that they really care about the power of positivity and it will motivate the creator even more to work harder with lots of happiness and positivity as the life of a content creator/ artist is not as easy as it looks. Thanks to YouTube. It will be moral boosting for lot of content creators and artist as most of the time the dislikes are targeted dislikes from a certain fandom or a set of people who want to pull you down for multiple reasons.

Sumit Gupta, Founder, Viral Pitch:

There’s a thin line between criticism and judgement. And with such a wide reach of these social media platforms, it’s pretty convenient for anybody to just pass on lewd comments and shatter somebody’s earned confidence and respect. It’s actually high time to build better versions where the creator’s creativity has the edge. Giving more power to the creators is an applaudable move, especially by privatising their creations’ data.

And in the same breath, let’s not ignore that we are becoming addicts and maybe consuming data at a higher rate than absorbing it. Humans need time off in order to function better, and companies owe that to their users. Reminding people to ‘take a break’ can have a greater impact than what I and you can think of, both physical and mental.

There’s no denying that with such powerful updates coming our way, there will be more room for creativity and innovation. Hesitation will take a back seat as you can expect better engagement and response from a creation-driven audience. Might as well expect more virality in coming times.

Sahil Narang, Fashion and Hair Influencer:

I create content across Instagram and YouTube and this content is usually exclusive for each platform. The process of ideating, creating and interacting with my audience across two major platforms is undoubtedly difficult. In fact, I juggle between creating content and a full time network engineer. Needless to say, there are days it gets a tad bit difficult to handle. With notifications constantly buzzing, I try to respond as much as possible to ensure good engagement, however, sometimes the negative comments get the best of me. That said, It is wonderful to see platforms themselves coming forward to help the creators and their audiences. Instagram’s ‘Take a Break’ feature could really be a path breaking step by the platform to prioritize the mental health of their creators. Secondly, with Youtube apparently disabling the unlike button from public view, social media is becoming a safer space for all content creators. These steps by the platforms make it clear that they are stepping towards creating a more secure environment free of negativity and addiction. Platforms are understanding the very value their creators bring to the platforms thereby ensuring a healthier space for them and the users.

However, it will be interesting to note how this changes branded content and the industry in general. Any break that a creator takes usually has an impact on the brands they work with, thereby impacting their overall revenue. Nevertheless, we’ve noticed over the last year that brands are becoming more cognizant of a creator’s personal space and this step of taking a break and hiding negative views may just help creators, like myself, to work more creatively and churn our better content.

Pranav Panpalia, founder, OpraahFx:

YouTube has always been the platform that motivated creators with its features, and lately, Instagram too has joined the bandwagon. Social Media apps regularly updating their features for the benefit of content creators is a clear indication that they truly understand the value and impact of unique and high-quality content + positive environment on the app. Safeguarding the creators (exclusive or not) on their platform has become the most important agenda of many applications as it is these creators who are driving and engaging people on these applications. Content creators feeling safe and valued will be motivated to create more and more unique content for the platform. Maybe that is one of the reasons why content creators prefer YouTube or Instagram over Facebook. For social media applications to create a fully safe space, the platforms will have to build strong algorithms to promote more positive and neutral sentiment content and minimize negative content distribution.

About the new features, I am glad to see the launch ‘hiding the dislike counter’ on YouTube and the testing of the ‘take a break’ feature on Instagram. While the dislike button allows creators to gather instant feedback, I don’t see a point in displaying the numbers to the public, as anyone can use this feature to demotivate the creators.

Last year, we all saw a dislike campaign for a Bollywood movie trailer which went on to become the most disliked trailer on YouTube. As content consumers, it’s really toxic to put people down, just because you can. Having said that, now that the dislike counter would be turned off, I am expecting people to make the right use of the comment box and converse with the creators on the hits and misses of the content. I feel that will be a much healthier practice, giving clear feedback and fostering a thriving consumer-creator ecosystem.

Pranay Swaroop, CEO, Chatterbox Technologies, QYOU Media INC group company:

Social Media platforms have become so integral to day-to-day lives that any changes and tweaks can be highly controversial. It’s however important for these platforms to continue to evolve and adapt.

The recent changes by both Instagram and YouTube are important steps to make their ecosystems a more positive place for creators, brands and users alike.

In the instance of YouTube removing the dislike counts publicly, it’s good for all 3 stakeholders because it limits mass trolls that often videos can get, it allows creators to be more experimental with their content while not being afraid of backlash. For users the like button still serves as a way for them to know if a video has been appreciated while letting them form their own opinions.

At the same time, creators can still opt to view their dislikes privately so they can receive needed data driven feedback to know what’s working for them.

Slayy Point, Comic Content Creator:

App makers are apparently trying to make it seem like they care about the time users spend on their apps. It really doesn’t convince me. Apps design their algorithms so that we spend as much time as possible using them. It is important to them to look like the most preferred app, the most entertaining app, the coolest app, to have the best content, and they need to have the best algorithms that make it more addictive. Almost all now feature short videos. All these features like: take a break and even Youtube has a timer after a point that reminds you to take a rest, are not of a great impact. Even though my mother uses this YouTube feature, she chooses to ignore notifications about it each time. Being a Gen X, she is so into this content and ignorant of that sign, how could anyone expect young adults of today to follow this break option. I guess we know when and how to take a break if we need to. All it takes is self-control.

In addition, removing the dislike button for the public on YouTube again seems unfair because creators have always had the option to hide their likes and dislikes. The fact that they have already done that for us beforehand doesn’t make any difference. Youtube likes and dislikes are an honest feedback tool, so it’s always helpful to get an honest opinion through likes and dislikes

The process of content creation will not change just because likes and dislikes aren’t visible. I don’t think people will stop using the apps if it reminds them to take a break. The algorithm is addictive, so people will still watch. For brands and creators, nothing will change. In fact, they might make matters worse if they try to capitalize on the attention people are giving them. If people are just going to spend an hour or two on the app, everybody will try their best to get their audience to watch their content first. This will lead to a whole new battle.

Yashvi Bagga, Entertainment Content Creator:

YouTube was the only platform that promoted constructive criticism in a way, constructive because nobody could type in a bully comment or abuse you but just dislike as a means of disagreement with your viewpoint over a video. But now after the dislike is removed, it will ignite the audience with hate to go down to the comments and type in something that’ll be way more harassing than a mere dislike. While this initiative may be to help and protect the content creators from targeted harassment but many do realize that this is one step ahead of the hate haters that would spread. People who want to hate will look for worse ways hereafter! COMMENT SECTION, INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT (DMS, Instagram comments), some might even mail them hate which is going to be way more specific and targeted! And as we know comments are a better way of engagement over likes the videos people hate will still trend.

No doubt, “Take a break” sounds like a good feature, but if one took a break from one social media, they’d switch to another! If Instagram restricted me to use its app for a while, I’d go on Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat instead, since we’ve had so much exposure to all these apps throughout the whole quarantine phase! It gives us a better opportunity to explore other apps, but it can also prove to be a disadvantage for Instagram as the most popular platform!

Furthermore, if Instagram could come up with a feature that would allow you to keep the app open but display an aesthetic and pleasing section of reels or posts, it might help the user remain calmer and composed within the app. You could reduce the screen brightness to give your eyes a rest from scrolling so brightly!

Magsplay, Gaming and entertainment content creator:

Instagram has taken a nice step here, because usually when we are scrolling through stories and reels, adults or children, we just keep scrolling without realizing how much time we have spent. In the ‘take a break’ feature, where they suggest taking a break from social media and spending time with friends or doing productive work if you have been on the app for a certain amount of time. Social media content has been consumed like anything during this lockdown. I think it’s beneficial to its users as well as content creators because we’re so engrossed with engagement numbers, social media, that we don’t leave time for other things in the real world. Our attention is always focused on the likes and dislikes of posts, pages, and what others are doing. This is a good initiative for the mental health of all the creators since we are constantly working 20 hours a day without even realizing that we haven’t given any time to other activities as we any fixed or specific working hours to work on, on a daily basis. The fact that this is happening is good.

Our industry is geared towards entertaining people. Although buttons that display the likes and dislike give us an idea that what type of content is our audience appreciates and what they didn’t like. It helps us to work on our next content accordingly. Though I feel displaying numbers on the channel can be very stressful as it may also influence other people to dislike or like. YouTube’s initiative is a positive step forward. Creating videos now won’t be stressful regarding the number of dislikes shown by the public.

Content creator industry and influencer marketing agencies will not be affected either positively or negatively by this update. YouTube will have a positive impact on content creators mentally. The take a break feature is more aimed at the parents so they can monitor how their children use social media. Adults will do whatever they want anyway. However, these things won’t have any effect monetary wise or content-wise.

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