Finally, a ‘dislike’ button for Facebook
September 24, 2015
After 8 years of constant “liking,” Mark Zuckerberg officially announced that Facebook is working on a dislike button.
But not a button like you may think. “What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” Zuckerberg revealed in a Q&A on September 15.
Not every post shared on the social network is a happy one. Whether it’s a current event, personal tragedy or social news, “liking” the update doesn’t always feel appropriate. So what are users left to do? For some, commenting on the post with a simple “dislike” was the best equivalent. But that’s not exactly emotionally valid for all situations.
The new dislike button is a way to bring meaning to an activity that can often be passive. Think of it this way. A friend just lost their father. Of course you want to offer condolences, but perhaps you have no real words to express your sympathy.
The impending feature will serve as a way to let your online friends know you’re thinking of them without the sympathies that can be awkward to give and sometimes hard to bear.
The cons are big
How do businesses feel about this new way to describe emotions? Facebook currently lets users “like” business, brand and celebrity pages. These entities regularly deal with negative comments, but not dislikes. When Facebook implements the new button, will they get the brute force of any negativity?
And then there’s cyberbullying. The social media giant has dealt with the negative effects social media can have on bullying since its inception. Quality resources and the ability to report abuse have helped. But will a dislike button of sorts cause an uptick in cyberbullying on the site? This is one of the biggest roadblocks Facebook has to work through.
Users still want the feature, though. It all comes down to how Facebook can give users a simple way to evoke empathy or distaste, without edging too far from a positive online environment.
The middle ground
Zuckerberg knows it. The media realizes it. It’s the reason why Facebook has long avoided a dislike button: it can’t be negative.
Easier said than done as the posts which warrant the use of this new button are likely inherently sad. Too negative and it could hurt user experience. Too sympathetic and it may be seen as too strong of an emotion for many to convey, even if it is just a button.
To help with the dilemma, Wired asked a group of designers how they would tackle the new button. Should it include hands like the current thumbs up “like” button? Should it be an enigmatic symbol for the user to decipher? Or should Facebook ditch the singular button and create a varied assortment for many emotions? It would be a bold move for the multi-billion dollar company to use a thumbs down icon, but “that isn’t what we’re here to build in the world,” Zuckerberg said.
With the negative inducing thumbs down button likely out of the picture, only Facebook knows which avenue to take. We’ll have to wait until the release to find out, but one can hope the new button will enable a more genuine online experience.
Watch the full video of today's townhall Q&A with Mark.
Posted by Q&A with Mark on Tuesday, September 15, 2015