“I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say We’re working on it and shipping it.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook announced Tuesday, it would introduce a “dislike” button to its social platform. And, immediately some people concluded this will lead to it becoming like Reddit; a social network both praised for and plagued by the honesty and aggression of its users.
Therefore, the question stands: Are we mature enough for a dislike button on Facebook?
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, Reddit has an up-vote, down-vote system in which users can raise up posts they like, or brutally bury ones they don’t. But, Reddit’s biggest problem is its posters’ anonymity. While some Redditors appear to possess the balls to bully, many would cower if lifted from the safety of sitting behind their laptop’s keyboards, and into a world in which you’re forced to provide your identity.
Facebook is a much stricter platform than Reddit, and polices such behaviour much more aggressively. Furthermore in most cases the people who make up your friends list are more than likely your actual friends, or at the very least it’s likely you’d have to deal with some real life fallout, if you were to insult them publicly. Therefore you’re naturally going to be less aggressive.
One area that will be interesting to watch, however, is comments on public pages. Having a dislike button could certainly prompt more honesty about content, and why certain topics are trending. There was a survey recently that found that the majority of news posted by publishers on social media was negative. Having a dislike button will make it more transparent as to why news trends. Is it because it’s uplifting or is it because it scares us or makes us angry?
Finally, having a dislike button will redefine how we respond to RIP posts. I’ve never felt comfortable “liking” people’s statuses about their grandparents passing away, even though they often focus on what great people they were. It’s been a constant debate in my head leaving me torn between signalling that I care that the person is upset they’ve lost someone, while feeling conflicted as to how I should be showing it, considering I do not “like” this news. The dislike button provides a solution to this dilemma, but it’ll be interesting to watch people figure out if they’re comfortable disliking someone’s grief so publicly.
All in all this is a positive move by Facebook, and it couldn’t have been done any earlier.
If we had had a dislike button from the very beginning, I imagine it would’ve established a culture of misuse early on.
Instead, Facebook has focused on creating a culture of respect, if not for other users then towards Facebook itself. People understand the house rules, and know that Facebook will not flinch in flexing its muscle to weed out bullying and negative behaviour.
Which is why people will most likely not misuse the dislike button to a great extent.
In announcing this feature, I think Facebook have finally decided we’re responsible enough to be more openly honest about how we feel. And hey,that makes it even easier for them to collect data on what people actually like, and “dislike”.