Editorials

Facebook “Dislike” button is a good idea, but it needs expanding

Being a user of Facebook and Google+ frequently, I’ve come to respect both networks and how they operate. I’m mostly sharing with friends and family on Facebook, and Google+ allows me to share with fellow tech enthusiasts such as myself. I like the atmosphere on Google+ much better: you can find groups there that are tailored to your interests, and you don’t have crazy news feeds that seem as overwhelming as those on Facebook. I’ve done a lot of reading on studies about how depressed someone can become using social media networks, and, if Facebook is the major go-to site, I can believe it. I know couples who use Facebook and aim to prove to the world that their lives are perfect – unfortunately for them, I know how imperfect their lives really are. Although I’ve been a Facebook user much longer than a Google+ user, I prefer Google+ when it comes to my social media life.

Well, Facebook has become more and more sophisticated as the year’s pass, but Mark Zuckerberg’s newest idea pertains to creating a new “dislike” button for Facebook. There are times when I’ve read something about a friend’s relative or cousin dying and wanted to let them know that I feel their pain (empathy). To this end, CEO Zuckerberg wants to provide some sort of empathy button so that people can share each other’s pain on social media. The CEO announced today that the Facebook team is actually working on the “dislike” button in a CNBC interview:

“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.”

Zuckerberg confirmed that there is a “dislike” button in testing for Facebook, though Zuckerberg has given no details as to when we can expect to even see the “dislike” button out in the wild on a software update. However, Zuckerberg did make it clear that he only wants the new button to “express empathy,” not to downvote someone’s post or comment, as is the case with Reddit: “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. If you are sharing something that is sad…then it may not feel comfortable to ‘like’ that post,” he said.

Well, I can understand his desire to want to provide an empathic response on social media, but I’d like to see the “dislike” button become more than just an empathy response. After all, some individuals on Facebook are good at being “braggarts” about their lives and their good fortune, and some individuals post things on Facebook that should be kept private and restricted to the bedroom. One post I saw in my news feed once concerned a married couple, with the wife posting a picture of her husband in his boxers and bathrobe on her wall while talking about “their special evening” ahead. Things like this need to remain private and not go public. I’m convinced that some people don’t know how to use social media, nor do they know what to say on it.

In short, I love the “dislike” button idea, but I want it to expand to even downvoting those whose Facebook posts are nothing short of ridiculous. Shaming is not a beloved pasttime for many, but perhaps a little shaming (anonymously, too) is what it takes to educate some individuals about what propriety on the World Wide Web is all about.

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