The Daily Beast reports:
In a software tweak first spotted by a developer forum, YouTube is toying with eliminating the comments section that accompanies videos on its mobile app. As it stands now, comments appear when a user scrolls below a video’s sharing buttons and “Up Next” recommended videos.
The change would significantly downgrade the prominence of comments on the notoriously toxic platform, which faces frequent criticism for harassment and hate speech—particularly if it was considered for YouTube’s main web product.
Today, YouTube’s comments don’t have a prominent position on its mobile app. On both iOS and Android devices, the YouTube video itself appears at the top of the screen, followed by engagement buttons for sharing, liking, disliking, downloading and saving the video.
Below that are recommendations from YouTube’s algorithm in a section titled “Up Next.” If you actually want to visit the comments, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. In the test, the comments have been removed from this bottom section of the page entirely.
Instead, they’ve been relocated to a new section that users can only view after clicking a button. It’s unclear if this change will reduce or increase user engagement with comments, or if engagement will remain flat — something that YouTube likely wants to find out, too.
This feels like a tentative baby step towards eventually eliminating comments entirely.