Dislike! Do we need the new Facebook feature?

LAST week it was announced by Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook was to get a “dislike” button after many years of will they, or won’t they and many users requesting some form of “dislike” button.

FacebookDislikebuttonAt a Q&A session 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.”

He emphasised that it was not to be a “down vote” feature, but an “empathy” button for sad posts. So, why has this suddenly been made a reality after so many years of resistance and what does it mean for social media?

Although this may seem a small issue, when you think about what it means, it could lead to a whole variety of issues. To bring in the feature with the goal that it get used as an empathy button for sad posts has merit, but will it really get used as such? Also, what was wrong with having the ability to comment on the post and say commiserations or some such thing that actually make be a bit more heartfelt than clicking a downward arrow. This is making our emotions and interaction into a simple yes/no; a binary that just seems too detached.

Last year, Mark Zuckerberg even said, “Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say ‘that thing isn’t good,’ and we’re not going to do that … I don’t think that’s socially very valuable, or great for the community.”

The “like” button has been in operation since 2009, and now and is said to be the most used feature on Facebook, and you can see why. It’s such a quick and easy way to show appreciation of something, albeit still being a simple click. In the fast-paced world which we live in, having the ability to do that is worthwhile, and even I  admit that it being the only option is a little weird.

FacebookDislikeTumbDownIn my mind, having a “dislike” button could cause negativity, and another form of online bullying in extreme cases. How is this new feature going to be monitored? For example, you post up something that means something to you and you get lots of dislikes on it, how is that going to make you feel? As it will be an easy click option to show the negativity, it will be seen a lot more than nasty comments in my mind.

Others may suggest that having an outlet to bring attention to their negative feelings will be enabled through the “dislike” button and provide an outlet. The issue is when this goes to far and that is something which leaves me concerned.

I would think that we should be promoting an ethos of positivity and togetherness in our society that Facebook have tried to fulfil as far as I was aware up until now – I will be interested to see what form this actually takes and I eagerly await more information from Facebook.