Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, has announced that the social network is adding a “dislike” button. A “dislike” button has been constantly requested by some users since the introduction of the now-iconic “like” button in 2009.
In a Q+A session held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the 31-year-old said the button would be a way for people to express empathy.
“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years,” said Zuckerberg
“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.”
However, he went on to say he did not want it to be a mechanism with which people could “down vote” others’ posts.
Instead, it will be for times when clicking “like” on “sad” posts felt insensitive. Citing news stories such as the Syrian refugee crisis or the death of a loved one, Zuckerberg seems to understand that a “like” doesn’t always convey a user’s true thoughts on a post.
“What they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment,” Zuckerberg said. He said that Facebook is “very close” to having it ready for user testing.
Though many worry that this could open a can of worms and be a new way to discredit and bully others. However, Prof Andrea Forte, an expert in social and participatory media at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said users will not suddenly turn on each other’s posts.
She continued “They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions (like frustration with ads popping up in their feeds) but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments.
“I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss.”
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