Will they or won’t they? It’s been a topic of discussion surrounding Facebook for years — will the company introduce a “Dislike” button to go alongside the inescapable “Like” button? When we last visited the topic in late December, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea outright, citing its negative connotation.
“You know, some people have asked for a Dislike button because they want to be able to say ‘That thing isn’t good’,” said Zuckerberg in a public Q&A. “And that’s not something that we think is good for the world. So we’re not going to build that.”
Well, it appears that Zuckerberg and company have had a change of heart over the past nine months. In another Facebook Q&A session held earlier today, Zuckerberg was singing a completely different tune with regards to the Dislike button. "People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years, and 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," said Zuckerberg.
That’s quite a change from his position in December, and Facebook certainly doesn’t want to allow people going crazy disliking everything from countless pictures of your friends’ new baby to posts that a multibillion dollar brands paid to have promoted in your News Feed.
Zuckerberg said that the “surprisingly complicated” task of creating the Dislike button will instead allow users to “express empathy” with a friend in a time of loss. There are few things as awkward as seeing a Facebook post about the death of someone’s family member that is accompanied with a number of Likes. We all get what the “thumbs up” means — as a showing of respect and offering condolences — but it can be a bit jarring at times to see regardless. Come to think of it, a thumbs down doesn’t exactly sound appropriate in that instance either, but that just exemplifies just how tough it will be to implement the feature.
“We don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts,” Zuckerberg explained. "That doesn't seem like the kind of community that we want to create: You don't want to go through the process of sharing some moment that was important to you in your day and have someone 'downvote' it.”
It’s not an enviable position to be in, but Facebook has decided to walk down this path. Once the feature goes live, we may all be in for a bumpy ride.