GH Trend Alert: Facebook Promises ‘Dislike’ Button

The Problem

Imagine this: a friend of yours just lost her job, and posted about it on Facebook. You see the update, and you want to ‘like’ the post to show your support – but you don’t want her to think you ‘like’ the fact that she lost her job!

The same goes for a natural disaster, a local or national tragedy, a death in the family: how can we show our support to friends in difficult situations when we’re not sure what to say in a comment?

The Solution

Facebook users have been pushing for a ‘Dislike’ button to respond to sad situations for years. After months of refusing to build the button, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on September 16 that it’s in development, and will be launched for testing in the very near future.

While mass media is presenting this straightforwardly as a ‘dislike’ button, Zuckerberg has explicitly said he does not want to enable up- or down-voting on Facebook posts. The ultimate goal is to create an ‘empathy’ button – more like saying “I’m sorry” than “I don’t like this.”

Why ‘Dislike’ Doesn’t Cut It

Zuckerberg has been clear about his intentions in response to pressure from the platform’s users. In December 2014 he said, “I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism about whether posts are good or bad.”

We can relate: as online shaming and bullying continues to be a serious issue, the thought of another medium for public put-downs makes us cringe.

What Does It Mean?

We predict the ‘empathy’ button will have little impact on company Facebook pages overall – at least not in the realm of ratings or negative feedback. As a business owner, you won’t see a sudden surge of disfavor from fans and clients ‘disliking’ your business.

For companies and organizations that deal with tragedy and grief, it may actually increase engagement. This feature will enable Facebook users to show sympathy or support in difficult situations where they previously would not have wanted to ‘like’ news about an earthquake or the death of a loved one – enhancing the role of social media in building social support systems.

We continue to watch this story closely – we’re looking forward to the beta release and public feedback on the feature.

In the meantime, please share with us your questions and thoughts on this topic in the comments!

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