If you’re a Facebook user (pretty much everyone now-a-days) then you are likely in the habit of ‘liking’ your friends’ posts or even sharing them from time to time. The simple ‘like’ button is a way to let your friends know that you are paying attention, appreciate what they have to say, enjoy a picture they posted, or a link they’ve shared. Facebook also uses the total number of likes along with other forms of engagement as a part of their algorithm which determines how often and how high up a user’s stream a post will appear.
For years now, the Facebook community has been pleading for a ‘dislike’ button to no avail. Users argue that they oftentimes don’t want to ‘like’ a friend’s post, but want to let them know that they are paying attention, care and wish to express empathy. For instance if one of your friends were to post an obituary for their grandmother, you most likely want to show them that you care and feel for their loss, but a ‘like’ of the post certainly does’t seem appropriate. On the other hand if their was a ‘dislike’ button, then this dilemma would not exist.
Today, at Facebook’s headquarters, their CEO and Co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was on hand for a townhall-style Q&A. During the session he revealed plans which should both surprise and satisfy a great number of Facebook users.
“We have an idea that we’re going to be ready to test soon, and depending on how that does, we’ll roll it out more broadly,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “Not every moment is a good moment,” he said, “and if you are sharing something that is sad, whether it’s something in current events, like the refugees crisis that touches you or if a family member passed away, then it may not feel comfortable to like that post.”
Whether or not the new bottom will be labeled ‘dislike’ or some other word or phrase is not clear, and the exact date for such a roll-out has not been announced yet. Up until this point, Facebook had shot down the notion of a ‘dislike’ button, saying that they wanted to promote positive, not negative, interactions between their members. Zuckerberg seems to have changed his views just a bit, however, stating today that “It’s important to give people more options than just like.”
It will be interesting to see just how Facebook integrates this new feature into posts, and whether or not web masters will also be able to integrate the button onto their pages. Whether or not the new button will have any effect on a post’s gravity like the ‘share’ and ‘like’ feature do is also yet to be seen.