×

YouTube Test to Sort Subscription Feeds in Non-Chronological Order Triggers Creator Backlash

YouTube has been testing out a new option to let users sort their subscription feeds in an algorithm-fed, non-chronological order — and the move has many creators up in arms.

YouTube has actually been running the test with a small number of users since February 2018. The Google-owned video service publicly acknowledged the test in a tweet from the Team YouTube account late Tuesday evening, in response to a user’s complaint that videos weren’t showing up chronologically.

“We find that some viewers are able to more easily find the videos they want to watch when we order the subs feed in a personalized order vs always showing most recent video first,” the Team YouTube post said.

Reaction from the YouTube community has been overwhelmingly negative. Grace Helbig, a popular YouTube comedy creator, tweeted simply, “Please don’t do this,” in response to the Team YouTube post.

Colleen Ballinger, the creator behind YouTube’s Miranda Sings awkward woman-child, also expressed strong concern. “I don’t see a single positive response to this announcement,” she wrote in a tweet. “Please reconsider. This will really hurt your content creators!!!!”

Seán McLoughlin, the video-game vlogger known as Jacksepticeye online, noted in response to the news, “People use the subscription tab to mainly avoid this sort of algorithmic behaviour on the platform. Please keep that to the home page and recommendations.”

The concern among YouTubers is that their view counts and user engagement could drop, if people see their subscription feeds in a non-chronological layout.

Responding to a request for more information, a YouTube rep said, “With more videos coming to YouTube every minute we’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch and share the videos that matter most to them.”

The rep continued, “This is one of many small experiments we run all the time on YouTube. We use both quantitative data as well as user and creator feedback to make decisions on which features to launch.”

YouTube emphasized that in the test, users still can choose which view they want to see. In addition, according to YouTube, all videos from a user’s subscriptions will still appear in feed.

The backlash calls to mind a similar change that Facebook’s Instagram made in 2016, when it switched users’ feeds en masse from chronological to algorithmically sorted presentation. That led to a massive outcry from Instagrammers, and 343,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding Instagram keep the chronological ordering. Of course, Instagram didn’t revert to the old design, and it has continued to amass users.

More Digital

  • Evan Williams, Twitter founder (R) and

    Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Steps Down From Company’s Board

    Twitter co-founder Evan “Ev” Williams is stepping down from the company’s board, Twitter announced in a SEC filing Friday afternoon. Williams will depart from the board at the end of this month, according to the filing. “It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Shuts Down Controversial Ovano VPN App

    Responding to a continued backlash over its data collection practices, Facebook pulled the plug on its Ovano VPN app Friday. Ovano, which promised users an added level of privacy while using public Wifi hotspots, was used by Facebook for market research purposes. Facebook removed the app from the Google Play store Friday, and the company [...]

  • Smosh

    Smosh Acquired by Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment

    UPDATED: Smosh, the long-running YouTube comedy brand, has been acquired by Mythical Entertainment, the company formed by Rhett & Link, hosts of comedy show “Good Mythical Morning.” As first reported by Variety last week, Mythical emerged as the leading candidate to buy Smosh, which was left stranded after parent company Defy Media shut down without [...]

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Aims to Top $1 Billion in Revenue in 2019, Beats Holiday Quarter Earnings Expectations

    Roku wants to become a billion-dollar company in 2019, and invest more in its ongoing international expansion. The streaming-device maker told investors on Thursday that it expects to generate between $1 billion and $1.025 billion this year, and that international growth was one of its key investment areas for 2019. Roku made these announcements as [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content