Is YouTube’s “Dislike” Button Dumb?

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Researchers found that YouTube “dislike” button is ineffective. 

YouTube Button: Helpful or Not? 

You might have disliked a lot of videos on YouTube to tell its algorithm not to recommend those types of videos. But they are still in your recommendations. 

If you notice it, you’re not alone. 

Mozilla researched to know how YouTube’s in-app controls, including the “dislike” button, influence video recommendations. Unfortunately, the researchers found that the controls are useless in controlling suggested content. 

According to the study, “People feel that using YouTube’s user controls does not change their recommendations at all. They’re right. YouTube’s user control mechanisms don’t effectively prevent “unwanted” recommendations.” 

The researchers tested how effective the four different controls were. They found that they had different levels of effectiveness. Unfortunately, their outcome was inadequate. But out of the four controls, “don’t recommend from channel” was the most effective. 

The “not interested” option was the least effective as it only presented 11% of unwanted recommendations; while the “dislike” button was nearly the same. 

Mozilla researchers also found that participants had to go to great lengths just to prevent unwanted recommendations. Thus, they urged YouTube to explain how the controls work. In that way, users will have more proactive ways to define what they want to watch on the platform. 

Algorithms to Be More Transparent

The research comes amid the increasing calls for major platforms to ensure that their algorithms will be more transparent. Lawmakers in the US proposed bills to hold companies responsible for bias in their algorithms. The EU went further ahead by passing Digital Services Act requiring platforms to explain how their recommendation algorithms work.  

In an email statement, a YouTube spokesperson stated “Our controls do not filter out entire topics or viewpoints, as this could have negative effects for viewers, like creating echo chambers.”

The platform does not prevent stop all content from similar topics from being recommended. However, they push authoritative content and suppress borderline videos that nearly violate content moderation policies. 

YouTube’s algorithm is constantly evolving. Transparency in its algorithm is not that simple. The reason for this is that the system has to consider various factors, like watch time, account clicks, and sharing, among others. 

Mozilla speculates that the platform does not prioritize user experience even if it has been around for more than a decade. The researchers wanted YouTube to allow people to proactively train its algorithm. 

Like all platforms, YouTube experiences various issues. It has rules written but enforcing them is quite difficult. One reason is that it is dealing with millions of videos. Plus, it has to manage videos from various countries and languages. 

But its AI is already powerful in that it can shape the content that the users see. Even though YouTube wants to empower its users, what’s clear now is that the platform does not hear or understand its users. 

Users also assume that the purpose of those buttons is not for them to control or tweak the feed. Rather, they are there to make users think the suggestions they see are what they want to see and keep you entertained in the meantime.

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Author: Jane Danes

Jane has a lifelong passion for writing. As a blogger, she loves writing breaking technology news and top headlines about gadgets, content marketing and online entrepreneurship and all things about social media. She also has a slight addiction to pizza and coffee.

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