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Joe Biden's mysteriously disappearing "Dislikes" on YouTube

The number of DNC convention 'Dislikes' on video streams dropped Friday below where they stood Thursday night, causing suspicion YouTube might be suppressing negative engagement for Biden.

Published: August 21, 2020 4:56pm

Updated: August 21, 2020 11:11pm

During Joe Biden's presidential nomination acceptance speech Thursday night, both his personal YouTube page and the Democratic Party's YouTube page saw strong, negative reactions from live audiences. In fact, "Dislikes" outnumbered "Likes," in real time.

Yet both pages' "Dislikes" mysteriously dropped in the hours after the Democratic National Convention (DNC) had concluded. The changing statistics led some on social media to wonder if the Google-owned YouTube platform was protecting Biden.

The number of Democratic convention stream "Dislikes"--or people pressing a button saying they did not like the content onscreen--dropped on Friday below where they stood on Thursday last night. The removed Dislikes could be a signal that YouTube is concerned about fake accounts or bots trying to influence the election or indicative of something else, experts said.

Tech giants have for years been in the crosshairs of Republicans for perceived anti-conservative bias.

There were many more "Dislikes" than "Likes" on DNC proceedings Thursday, but many of those "Dislikes" later disappeared, and the ratio shifted in the other direction. Monday's DNC proceedings, however, on Friday evening had more "Dislikes" than "Likes," though the ratio had tightened. 

Just the News observed the drop in "Dislikes" in real time between Thursday evening and mid-day Friday, a trend observed by additional YouTube users as well.

A video posted by YouTube user "nina e" illustrated screen shots of the number of '"Dislikes" for the 2020 Democratic National Convention Livestream dropping.

"After seeing many dislikes disappearing on videos of the DNC Conventions, i [sic] decided to do a screen record to document the censorship in favour of Joe Biden. On this video you can see me refreshing/reopening the page of the video of the 4th DNC Convention , the dislike were 5,9k, and when I reopened the page, 2,1k dislikes magically disappeared🤷🏻‍♀️ while likes even increased...later on, the erasing grew bigger but i didn't document it. It is unknown if dislikes are being frozen by continuously erasing them as they appear. 

"This is CENSORSHIP to hide Joe Biden's unpopularity, in order to motivate people to vote for him and suppress Trump voters." 


Neither representatives from Google (which owns YouTube) nor the Biden campaign responded to requests for comment from Just the News. 

"We have all these new metrics and we're trying to figure out what they mean," said data expert and pollster Scott Rasmussen, who conducts the Just the News' Daily Poll. "And we know that there's a lot of trolling that goes on with online social media platforms. So it's hard to know how to interpret these numbers, obviously, you would never like to have more negatives than positives. But at the end of the day, Joe Biden's challenge is that Joe Biden is never going to be a beloved candidate. His challenge is to be less disliked than Donald Trump, his challenge is to be less disliked than Hillary Clinton, and his entire campaign is about focusing attention on Donald Trump, and so all the rest of this has to be seen in that perspective."

Rasmussen noted that in 2016, many people said they voted for candidate Donald Trump because they were opposed to Democrat Hillary Clinton rather than being enthusiastically pro-Trump, and he said there could be a reverse now with many voters "holding their noses" to vote for Biden because they're anti Trump.

"Certainly there will be people who who do that, absolutely," Rasmussen said. "Many of them will be supporters of Bernie Sanders, and some of them will be 'Never Trumpers.' But yes, I would expect that will happen."

Rasmussen said that in 2016, there were 15% of voters who said that both major candidates were unqualified for the job, and that two-thirds of those voters voted for Trump.

"And I think this time around we may see a similar dynamic, where there will be a significant portion of the electorate, whether it be bigger or smaller than before who says both candidates are unqualified for the job," Rasmussen said. "And the question will be, can Biden reverse those numbers? Will two-thirds of the people be holding their nose to vote for him, or will two thirds be elected in 2016 and voting for Trump?

Regarding the YouTube question Rasmussen said the negativity toward Biden could be from different camps, including Democrats who are disgruntled supporters of former candidate Bernie Sanders, some non-Democratic bots or trolls and even possibly some organized anti-Biden coordination.

"I would assume that somebody coordinated, and I would it assumes it includes all of the above categories," Rasmussen said. "We have no way of knowing the mix. I guarantee you there are people who are going to say, ‘There's no difference between Biden and Trump, because you know they're Bernie supporters. I have no doubt there are other disgruntled people. at the end of the day, though, those disgruntled voters always come home. When they walk into the voting booth they're gonna say I have to vote against Donald Trump, if they’re a Democrat."

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