What Is the YouTube Dislike Extension and How Does It Work?

You can now see the number of dislikes that a video has on YouTube once again, but you need to download a separate browser extension to do so.

Earlier this month, YouTube made the controversial decision to remove the public dislike count on all its videos, in an effort to discourage targeted harassment campaigns that seek to weaponize it. The dislike button itself still remains intact (and, if you negatively react to a piece of content, it will affect your future recommendations), but you cannot see how many other people have used it.

Instead, the dislike count is now only visible to creators themselves and, even then, they will have to go out of their way to find that information in their analytics tab.

In a YouTube Creators post (that ironically has an extremely unfavorable like/dislike ratio), Matt Koval, creator liaison, provided justification for this update. In it, he said: "I've always thought that the number of dislikes on a video helps us know, as viewers, if it's a good video or not.

"Unfortunately, research teams at YouTube have found that there's this whole other use for disliking a video [...] Apparently groups of viewers are targeting a video's dislike button to drive up the count, turning it into something like a game with a visible scoreboard. And it's usually just because they don't like the creator or what they stand for. That's a big problem when half of YouTube's mission is to give everyone a voice."

Koval then explains how, in March 2021, YouTube ran an experiment to see what would happen if the dislike count was removed. At the time, this only affected a trial group of users, but Google got the results they expected and decided to make it a permanent change across the board.

Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons for wanting to see the dislike count on a YouTube clip. The information can help you decide if a piece of content is worth watching or if it has been misleadingly titled, if a tutorial is actually helpful in any way, or just to gauge the public response to the latest movie trailers and music tracks.

With that said, if you want to restore the dislike count it is now possible, even if it's not through YouTube itself.

Halo Infinite: Forever We Fight Trailer
Image shows the latest "Halo Infinite" trailer as it appears on YouTube right now. If you look next to the video title, you will see that the dislike button is active but displays no tally of how many people have used it. YouTube

How Does the 'Return YouTube Dislike' Extension Work?

A new browser extension, from a software developer named Dmitry Selivanov, is available to download through trustworthy channels and it requires minimal input from your end.

The open-source extension is named "Return YouTube Dislike" and it works by accessing Google's own Application Programming Interface (API). In a nutshell, this means that the data you see here will be entirely accurate.

Yet Google is planning to shut down this API on December 13, which poses a rather big problem for the extension.

According to the FAQ section on the "Return YouTube Dislike" website, there is a contingency in place for when this happens. Once the API has been pulled, the extension will then switch to using "a combination of archived dislike stats, estimates extrapolated from [user] data and estimates based on view/like ratios for videos whose dislikes weren't archived and for outdated dislike archives".

This essentially means that the dislike count will stop being quite so precise after a while and that it won't be based on real-time data.

However, until then, it's as authentic an experience as you are going to get without YouTube itself reverting its decision.

Halo Infinite Trailer With Dislikes
Once the browser has been installed, you will notice that the dislike count automatically displays where it used to. YouTube

How To Get the 'Return YouTube Dislike' Extension

The "Return YouTube Dislike" extension is compatible with both Google Chrome and Firefox browsers.

To install it, you simply need to visit this page and then choose the relevant browser. This will then take you through to a trusted storefront (either the Google Chrome Store or the Firefox Browser Add-Ons website), where you can download the extension for free.

It should only take a couple of seconds to install. Once that's done, you can head into any YouTube video and see the dislike count exactly as you used to. You won't need to do anything to trigger this, it will just happen automatically. The extension is still in its Alpha version at the moment, which means it could be a little buggy but it seems to generally work without a hitch.

Speaking to Newsweek about the extension, Dmitry Selivanov said: "The motivation behind this was simple convenience [...] I prefer to see the rating of the video before I waste time watching it.

"This approach might not work so well on polarizing topics, such as politics, vaccines and religion. In these [cases] everyone should decide for themselves and not go with a herd mentality, because videos on these topics can get raided by opposing parties.

"But if it's a simple programming tutorial, the YouTube dislike ratio is quite a good quality indicator. And I mostly use YouTube for educational videos and tutorials, so not being able to see dislikes in these categories was quite hindering.

"Regarding the user privacy question. We're not collecting any private data [...] We only store publicly available dislike counts. Later, when we start collecting actual votes made by extension users, we won't be storing this data in an identifiable way. Just anonymous IDs."

If you are wondering which YouTube video currently has the most dislikes, it is actually one that was made by the video sharing platform itself. The 2018 "YouTube Rewind" clip has a staggering 20 million dislikes, against just 3 million likes. This is then followed by the "Baby Shark" music video at 15 million dislikes.

For a breakdown of the content creators who are most popular on YouTube, click here.

YouTube Logo
Image shows the YouTube Logo on display. ERIC PIERMONT/AFP