22 October 2019
Liaison Office chief Zhang Xiaoming (R) and Chief Executive CY Leung will get a lot of "dislikes" from Hongkongers but it wouldn't bother the two officials too much. Photo: CNSA
Liaison Office chief Zhang Xiaoming (R) and Chief Executive CY Leung will get a lot of "dislikes" from Hongkongers but it wouldn't bother the two officials too much. Photo: CNSA

Why CY won’t lose any sleep over the ‘dislike’ button

With Facebook revealing that it is preparing to launch a “dislike” button, some Hongkongers have already begun brainstorming on how they can ensure top scores for at least two people — Liaison Office chief Zhang Xiaoming and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

If they do launch a campaign, netizens may not find the task too difficult in building negative votes against the duo, who seem to constantly find new ways to alienate Hong Kong people.

But for those hoping that they can give some sleepless nights to the two through Facebook, they will be disappointed.

First, Zhang and CY won’t really care about the number of “dislikes” they get in Hong Kong. What matters to them is only “likes” given by Beijing.

Specifically on CY, if the chief executive has a constitutional status that transcends all branches of the government — as Zhang said last weekend — do you think he’ll be bothered with mere Facebook “dislikes”? 

Next, we should bear in mind that the upcoming “dislike” facility is not what most Facebook users think it might be in terms of function.

According to the social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, who made the announcement this week, the “dislike” button will not serve as an expression of hostility, as if you hate someone and dislike everything he does.

It will rather serve as a tool to express empathy, helping people respond properly to “sad” posts or distressing news.

Of course Facebook users can leave comments on posts but it is hard for advertisers to quantify such responses.

If a guy has posted a message saying that he broke his legs or a woman says she lost her father, a “like” is not the appropriate response. 

Similarly, if you are faced with news stories such as the Syrian refugee crisis or the Bangkok bombings, how do you convey your real feelings?

It is issues such as these that the “dislike” button seeks to resolve. 

And, what Facebook also needs is a mechanism that can curb cyber bullying. 

From our own experience of running a Facebook page, we can say that weird stories — for example, a man taking off his clothes in public — get more attention and go viral.

But what if the person was suffering from some mental disorder or was under the influence of drugs?

Recently, there was a controversy about a lady who plugged in a phone charger into an electrical socket on an MTR platform.

Now, was she trying to save on her electricity bill? Or was she desperate because she was worried that she might miss an important call if her phone was not charged immediately?

A bigger issue: should MTR provide charging service to its passengers? (I suppose so, but given what we know of MTR, they might charge a lot for this service).

Coming back to the broader issue of responding properly to online posts, there is no doubt that we need more tools, apart from “likes”, to express our true thoughts and feelings on various things.

But the coming “dislike” button will not necessarily mean “I hate this”.

Depending on the specific circumstance, we need to figure out how to convey our dissatisfaction and respond in the right manner to negative news and developments.

That includes news feeds on people like NPC deputy Maria Tam Wai-chu and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee members or lawyers who constantly try to justify controversial statements made by mainland officials on core issues such as “one country, two systems”.

As for CY, we wish him some peaceful nights. 

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EJ Insight writer