25 October 2016
Mark Zuckerberg says the idea of a 'dislike' button is to express empathy, not to downgrade posts. Photo: Internet
Mark Zuckerberg says the idea of a 'dislike' button is to express empathy, not to downgrade posts. Photo: Internet

Why Facebook wants you to have a ‘dislike’ button

If you don’t like it, say so.

Facebook users will have more choices to express themselves after founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a plan to add a “dislike” button.

For the most part, they have been limited to clicking “like” or “share” if they like a particular post and some emoticons to highlight their feelings.

Their silence — not hitting the “like” button, for instance — could be taken in many different ways.

Now, they can actually say something sucks, according to the BBC.  

Or they could be saying they’re sorry to read or hear something.

Zuckerberg said the button would be a way for people to express empathy.

A “dislike” button has been constantly requested by some users since the introduction of the now-iconic “like” button in 2009.

“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years,” Zuckerberg told an audience in Menlo Park on Tuesday.

“Probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.”

However he went on to say he did not want it to be a mechanism with which people could “down vote” others’ posts.

Instead, it will be for times when clicking “like” on “sad” posts felt insensitive.

Prof. Andrea Forte, an expert in social and participatory media at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said users will not suddenly turn on each other’s posts.

Meanwhile, Time magazine said the idea works to some degree.

After all, the 1.5 billion human beings using Facebook experience a variety of emotions besides “like.”

“Like” grows ever more restrictive. Users don’t want to “like” an article about the struggles of Syrian refugees or give a thumbs up when a friend shares that a loved one has died. 

So “dislike,” or whatever it winds up being called, could provide a counterbalance to that phenomenon, making it easier for users to signal interest in a post or story that would be awkward to “like.”

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