If you already thought Facebook was a judgemental and socially painful experience, brace yourself, because it could get worse for you. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the world’s most used social network, has announced that the site will now add a ‘dislike’ button.
In front of a packed audience at a Q&A session held at Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park, California, Zuckerberg unveiled that the dislike button is “very close” to being ready for testing.
Addressing his audience on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said: “People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years.
“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.”
So the dislike button had been heavily requested (though hundreds seems a small number in relation to the amount of worldwide Facebook users) ever since the ‘like’ button was introduced in 2009. Whereas the like button is a boost to ones ego and acts as a validation tool, can the opposite button be detrimental to a users experience?
Zuckerberg went on to defend the new feature’s intentions by explaining that he didn’t expect users to use the mechanism to “down vote” posts. He expects that it will be used in times when clicking ‘like’ on a sad post felt insensitive.
His claim that users would not use this as an opportunity to attack was backed by Professor Andrea Forte, an expert in Social and Participatory Media at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who stated:
“They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions (like frustration with ads popping up in their feeds) but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments.
“I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss.”
Fans and users of YouTube will be familiar with the dislike button, used to show a negative response to a users post. Acting very much like a social put down. What is not clear at this stage is whether Facebook will allow the recipient of a dislike the ability to view who did so. This insight is not awarded to users on Youtube, as ‘dislikers’ can hide behind a wall of anonymity.
Mark Zuckerberg’s almost naive reasoning for implementing the dislike button does seem suspect and campaigners against cyberbullying may be adverse to such changes on a platform that is seeing increasing numbers of negative experiences for it’s users.
What do you think of the new Facebook ‘dislike’ button proposed by Zuckerberg?