YouTube Rewind Reflects Platform’s Growing Disconnect with Its Community

This year’s YouTube Rewind, an annual video created by the site to spotlight popular content, is officially the most disliked video on YouTube. The video managed to achieve its record-setting 13,146,609 dislikes (and counting) in ten days, while it took Justin Bieber’s Baby video eight years to receive its 10,054,757 dislikes.

Daily user activity on YouTube Rewind 2018. While views dropped, users liked and disliked the video consistently during the week after its release.

At least Bieber’s video has a roughly equal number of likes to dislikes. YouTube Rewind has around six times more dislikes than likes. From our visualization, we can see that even as views dipped, users consistently disliked the video at a near-constant rate.


So why so much hate for YouTube Rewind? Some argue that since 2017, YouTube has backed away from its creators in an attempt to distance itself from controversies surrounding hateful content and reactions to ad policies. User activity on past Rewind videos supports this.

User activity on past YouTube Rewind videos, from 2011 to 2018. The 2017 and 2018 editions show a larger proportion of dislikes than in previous years.

We can see that Rewind videos from 2017 and 2018 clearly received more dislikes than past videos. Rewind comments include calls for influencers like PewDiePie to be included, with variants of his name written 121 times in the most recent 1,500 comments on the 2018 Rewind. In fact, PewDiePie’s response video, The Youtube Rewind 2018 made HISTORY!, trended as #1 in the Gaming category a day after its release.

Word cloud of most frequent words in 1,500 most recent comments on YouTube Rewind 2018


Viewer comments also frequently included words such as “dislikes,” “disappointed,” “wtf,” and “worse.” The overwhelmingly negative response to a video intended to celebrate the platform’s community reflects a growing disconnect between YouTube and its creators. Creator fanbases have shown their support for their creators through dislikes, negative comments, and increased activity on creator pages. For instance, PewDiePie’s fanbase landed his new content a spot on YouTube’s trending category. In 2019, YouTube’s editorial team may want to have its creators lead its YouTube Rewind.

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