YouTube users smashing the “Dislike” button are likely wasting their time, according to new research from Mozilla.
YouTube, like many online platforms, provides a button for individuals to dislike content. The idea is that disliking something will fine-tune the platform’s algorithm to show the user less content of a similar nature.
According to Mozilla, however, the “Dislike” button doesn’t really work.
Indeed, Mozilla’s research found that people who are experiencing unwanted recommendations and turn to the platform’s user controls for assistance prevent less than half of unwanted recommendations.
The issue is made even worse as a result of the type of content often found on YouTube.
This is especially troubling because Mozilla’s past research shows that YouTube recommends videos that violate its very own community guidelines, like misinformation, violent content, hate speech, and spam. For example, one user in this most recent research asked YouTube to stop recommending war footage from Ukraine — but shortly after was recommended even more grisly content from the region.
Needless to say, users don’t trust YouTube’s controls to provide them with the tailored experience they’re looking for.
“We learned that people don’t feel YouTube’s user controls are effective tools for managing the content they see,” says Becca Ricks, Senior Researcher at Mozilla. “Our research validates these experiences — the data shows that people don’t actually have much control over the YouTube algorithm.”
“Our study found that YouTube’s user controls have a negligible impact on preventing unwanted recommendations, leaving people at the mercy of YouTube’s recommender system,” adds Jesse McCrosky, data scientist with Mozilla. “As a result, YouTube continues to recommend videos that people have clearly signaled they do not want to see, including war footage and gruesome horror clips.”