Browser extension brings back number of dislikes to YouTube videos

If you don’t see the YouTube video count, consider checking out this browser extension, which may restore the feature.

A software developer named Dmitry Selivanov has created an open source extension for Chrome and Firefox that can add dislike count to videos on YouTube.

The extension, called “Return YouTube Dislike(Opens in a new window)”, has already attracted more than 50,000 users, according(Opens in a new window) at the Chrome Web Store. The software is a first alpha version, but it works as expected: load a YouTube video and the extension adds the dislike number to the clip.

The extension in action.

The extension is able to pull the dislike count by accessing Google’s own YouTube API, which unlocks third-party access to the video platform. So you should see an accurate dislike number, not just an estimate.

The bad news is that Google plans to switch off(Opens in a new window) the API on December 13. As a result, Selivanov archived the like count for various videos on the platform. Once the API is disconnected, the extension will “switch to using a combination of archived dislike statistics, estimates extrapolated from extension user data, and estimates based on view ratios. /like for videos with unarchived likes and for outdated like archives”. FAQs(Opens in a new window) for the extension says.

So expect accuracy to decrease over time, especially for recently uploaded videos. Also, the dislike count for the extension will not be displayed in real time. Instead, the current version of the software will only update them once every two to three days.

Extension's Github page.

The extension’s GitHub page.

The other issue concerns privacy. To work, the extension needs permission to read and change data when your browser loads YouTube. The FAQ also notes that the extension will collect IDs of videos users watch, but only at an aggregate level.

“We don’t collect any private data,” Selivanov told PCMag in an email. “We don’t even know the exact number of users (only numbers provided by Chrome Store and Firefox Store) because we don’t store anything related to the user. We only store publicly available dislike counts.”

“Later, when we start collecting actual votes from extension users, we won’t store this data in any identifiable way, only anonymous IDs,” he added.

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Selivanov created the extension because the dislike count helped him determine if a YouTube video was worth watching. “I mainly use YouTube for educational videos and tutorials, so not being able to see dislikes in those categories was quite inconvenient,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by many other users, including one of YouTube’s co-founders. “The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is a critical feature of a user-generated content platform,” YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim wrote earlier this month; he called the platform’s decision to remove the dislike count a “dumb idea”.

Nevertheless, YouTube decided to hide the feature as they feared that the same feature could be used for harassment purposes. Now, only YouTube clip uploaders can privately view their video counts through the platform’s official systems.

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Shirley K. Rosa