A study reveals that the “Dislike” button on YouTube does not have a significant impact on the recommendations of the platform

In this digital world we all live looking to cultivate “likes”. In addition to inflaming our ego, they are an indication that the content we are creating is to the liking of our audience.

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And just as we adore the “like”, we avoid the “dislike”that functionality portrayed as a thumbs down—yes, like back in the days of gladiators and Roman emperors—that tracks how many of our followers didn’t like our content.

Although the “dislike” button (Dislike in Spanish)” is no longer present in most social networks because it is considered too negative, its presence on YouTube is iconic.

As users, we might believe that giving “I don’t like” a video could affect how often we see similar content in the platform’s recommendations, but a study carried out by Mozilla has shown that the equation is not so simple.

Mozilla analyzed the YouTube browsing history of 22,722 volunteers whose browsers had an extension called RegretsReport to record their activity between December 2021 and June 2022. The data allowed analysts to study more than 500 million recommendations made by YouTube after users clicked one of the tools to give negative feedback (such as the button of “dislike” or “do not recommend this channel”).

What the study showed is that the “dislike” button only decreased the recommendation of similar videos by 12% which users had disliked, while the “don’t recommend this channel” button stopped 43% of similar recommendations.

According to the study: “People feel that using YouTube’s user controls doesn’t change their recommendations at all.”

After having analyzed the data, Mozilla proposes to Youtube create simpler user controls that allow the user to understand how their use will influence the results that the platform will return to them: “YouTube must design its feedback tools in a way that puts people in the driver’s seat. The tools Feedback should allow people to proactively shape their experience, and user feedback should be given more weight in determining which videos are recommended.”

In a world dominated by algorithms It is important that users know and understand how digital platforms and their recommendations work. Studies like Mozilla’s make visible how far we really are from having control over what appears on our screens, even if we ask that it not be done.

In addition to making Mozilla browsers and digital tools (via the Mozilla Foundation) “works to ensure that the Internet remains an open and accessible public resource for all of us.”


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