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Mace & Crown | March 25, 2017

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"Disliking" Coming Soon to Facebook

“Disliking” Coming Soon to Facebook

Facebook users may soon have the option of “Disliking” content, according to founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. On September 15, Facebook held a live-streamed Q&A session wherein Zuckerberg made his softened stance on “disliking” known to the public.

Previously, Zuckerberg had been against such an option as it presented a very obvious method of sowing discontent and negativity on the world’s most popular social network. But now, in the wake of Facebook and social networks being used for social activism and world news, Facebook seems like it may actually need a way for users to express themselves in a way other than a one-dimensional positive acknowledgement.

Whatever new button, or buttons, that Facebook plans to implement will probably not be a generic “Dislike” button. Such a button will be just as one-dimensional, and lacking in meaning, as its positive counterpart. More than likely, Facebook will implement some kind of “sympathize” button for content that people want to see more of, and care about, but is not necessarily the kind of content that warrants “liking”, such as the current refugee crisis.

Whatever Facebook decides to do, the current “Like” button will not be going away, and Facebook is against buttons that encourage negative behavior. As opposed to systems like Reddit’s up-voting and down-voting, Facebook wishes to only have encouraging behavior.

One reason Facebook is against any kind of “disapproving” system, in the face of many users calling for such a feature, is because such a system may allow negative behavior against content that is not meant for sharing.

“While many users love the idea of Facebook adding a dislike button, I don’t think there are many users who are dying to have their own content disliked… there are many things users want for themselves, but don’t enjoy when given to others in their social network,” a Facebook engineer said in 2012 on Quora.com.

The Facebook engineer may be right. The internet is very fond of not liking anything that even mildly annoys it, and then sometimes goes too far with such reactions. However, there are opposing opinions on how such a system might be used by the social network.

“They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions, like frustration with ads… but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments,” Dr. Andrea Forte, a Drexel University professor who specializes in social media, wrote in an e-mail to USA Today.

While Dr. Forte may have a more positive outlook on the behavior of people on the internet, any kind of “Dislike” button will require a lot more thought and care than simply adding it alongside the “Like” button. Facebook users are clamoring for a way to express a myriad of emotions and personal opinions on their favorite social network, and the addition of one or two more buttons may help them do just that.

Or they could, of course, write out their thoughts in comments.