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#sowhoknew: A ‘dislike’ button on Facebook? I dislike…

Mark Zuckerberg has finally raised the notion of introducing a ‘dislike’ button on Facebook but it seems that many users (myself included) believe the idea is deeply flawed as it raises genuine concerns about the toxic effects of trolling…

steve fb dislike 1

At a live Q&A last week Zuckerberg acknowledged that “not every moment is a good moment” and that “it may not be comfortable” to stick a like on certain types of posts. And that is a fair point. We’ve all experienced posts that don’t necessarily warrant a ‘like’ (such as your friend’s car has been pranged or your grandma’s cat has shrugged off its mortal coil) but you do feel compelled to do something beyond leaving a comment. However, the main concern from users is how much that simple and seemingly innocuous change might affect the type of content you see on Facebook turning it into a much more negative, and arguably more sinister, environment.

Over 10,000 users reacted to the news by putting their views on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page and a surprising number of comments implored him not to go ahead with the proposal. The main reason for their objection? Cyberbullying. Imagine the damage that a simple series of ‘dislikes’ on someones posts could have on a traumatised teenager or someone suffering from anxiety, low self- esteem or depression?

steve fb dislike 3

Via it’s complex chains of algorithms, Facebook is designed to provide you with a slightly rosier view of the World than is the reality (it’s not the New York Times after all). It uses your ‘likes’ to deliver information to you in a more positive manner. So, if that’s the case, if they were to include a ‘dislike’ alternative how would that affect the current positivity of the site? Techno-sociologist (yes there is such a thing) Zeynep Tufekci argues that the power of the humble ‘like’ can have consequences on a global scale, “Facebook helps structure the world’s attention – one of the most important, crucial resources of 21st century. The choice of ‘like’ as a primary signal in the world’s biggest social network has substantive political consequences.”

So if we are going to give the proverbial ‘thumbs down’ [groan] to the ‘dislike’ are there any alternatives? Well Wired have offered up four (ahem) ‘smarter’ options…

Source: Wired

Source: Wired

1. The ‘Ear’ – shorthand for “I hear you
2. The ‘Hand Holding Heart” – which expresses ‘empathy‘ (pass the virtual bucket please)
3. The ‘Point Up’ – I’d describe this as the ‘right on‘ button
4. The ‘Neutral Half Moon’ – meant to symbolise a ‘glass half full‘ with the message being, you neither agree or disagree (totally pointless then)

Hmmm. Well I have found a use for the ‘dislike’ button after all. Frankly, I think these are all a bit crap.

So what if we let the users themselves offer us their point of view? A CNN news report looked at that very option and they found that people had proffered their own take on the dislike button. A few suggested an ‘Eye Roll’ or possibly even a ‘Shoulder Shrug’. Or what about the suggestion of a ‘Vomit’ version? I’d love to see the proposed icon for that one…

So what do you think? Do the pros of the ‘dislike’ outweigh the cons or not? Is there an alternative?

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.
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