Karim, who co-founded YouTube in 2005 with Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, was commenting on YouTube’s UI update last week which removed public dislikes but kept likes visible.
According to the company, this was done to combat harassment and to promote respectful interactions between viewers and creators.
Many YouTuber users, however, have criticized the decision, claiming that without dislikes, it is impossible for them to track what audiences want from their content, forcing them to either stick with old formats or risk moving too quickly.
“Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change? There is a reason, but it’s not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed,” writes Karim. “The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good.”
Karim has been receiving his own message out in an unexpected way: by modifying the description of the very first video ever uploaded to YouTube, a banal clip titled “Me at the zoo,” in which the 25-year-old Karim appears.
Karim originally edited the description of the video a few days ago to read: “When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, YouTube 🤦🏻♂️.”
Jawed Karim Predicts Decline, Karim’s post continues: “When the initial [user interface] update was announced, my concern was that YouTube would do an even worse job at moderating content in a way I thought was not possible,” he says. “I don’t think they can ever provide a consistent user experience when it comes to moderation.”
YouTube should have realized that they are not providing people with an incentive to use the platform. I think it’s important for them to provide a consistent user experience, but also give their users ways of expressing themselves.