Should Facebook Have a Dislike Button?

Facebook, after running for more than a decade and accumulating popularity with an impressive portion of the world’s population, has decided that it will make one very groundbreaking change to its platform. On September 15, 2015, an announcement by Mark Zuckerberg in which he said that the social network would finally include a “Dislike” button has been published on Business Insider. Although the change is small, the implications are quite enormous, with a potential to greatly affect the way that people interact on Facebook. What exactly does the dislike button do for the most massive social network in the world? The time has come to discuss this topic!

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Have you ever seen a post on Facebook about something tragic, and you wanted to acknowledge that you have empathy for what happened only to notice that you have a “Like” button to click? For many people clicking “Like” on a post about a tragedy may feel like one is transmitting the message that they actually like what happened. To express their empathy in a manner that truly depicts how they feel about the event, people would often forego that option and go straight into commenting. Yes, that is an interaction, but one that occupies more time and energy than simply clicking a button.

This is where the “Dislike” feature comes in. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, says that what he really wants is to introduce a way for users to express empathy. “Not every moment is a good moment,” he said. Apparently, Facebook has been working on this feature for a while, with Zuckerberg saying that “it’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that will be simple.

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According to the language that Zuckerberg used, it does not appear that the button will act as a downvote. During his presentation it was made clear that the Reddit-style system of upvotes and downvotes was not going to be implemented, but it also appears that the “dislike” is not necessarily going to serve as the opposite of a “like” on Facebook. If you “dislike” something, it may as well serve the same purpose, and the interaction will be positive in its own right. For those of you who were hoping to show how discontented you were with a post, you may be disappointed at this particular feature. You can say that you “dislike” this change.

Since Facebook’s head made it clear that the “dislike” he is referring to is more like an empathy vote, we can safely assume that it won’t serve as an expression of disdain for the post itself. There are many people who perhaps would have liked it to be a thumbs down instead. It seems, however, that Facebook is unwilling to do this for a number of reasons:

  • It would create an environment that acknowledges negativity,
  • It would perhaps lead to the introduction of a ratings system based on a like/dislike ratio (much like Reddit’s system).
  • Having friends dislike each other’s posts could create the kind of friction that Facebook tries to avoid.

For now, if you want to offer a thumbs down, it appears that the only way to do so would be to use the current method of commenting on the post with either an image or an explanation that portrays how discontented you are. Whether Facebook should have or should not have introduced such a system is probably going to be a point of debate. Given the culture they are trying to breed, it appears that the social network should abstain from implementing this for the foreseeable future.

It’s time to hear from you! Should Facebook have a thumbs down dislike? Tell us in a comment!