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…
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?
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…
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?