The world may be a much different place in the near future. Not because of global warming or the 2016 presidential campaign, but because of the Facebook dislike button.
Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that his company is developing alternatives to the “like” button, according to a report from AdWeek. Rumors flooded in that Facebook was working on the long-awaited “dislike” button. Not so fast.
“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 said. “Not every moment is a good moment if you share something that’s sad like a refugee crisis that touches you or a family member passes away, it may not be comfortable to like that post…I do think it’s important to give people more options than liking it.”
Facebook has not said if there will actually be a “dislike” button. In fact, Zuckerberg was vague when discussing it at a recent town hall forum. Facebook tests everything and Zuckerberg said testing has not being on this new feature, whatever it is.
For fun, let’s speculate a little. I’d imagine that Facebook is working on some sort of button that would allow users to show or exert an emotion that is more detailed and possibly negative than “like.” Maybe, there will be a series of new emotions, taking us into the scalable research world of “Strongly agree, mostly agree, somewhat agree, ect.,” but who knows.
There are a few major implications for any changes or additions to the “like” button. First, marketers will be watching closely. If a consumer can dislike a brand’s post then it will open up Facebook advertisers to an entirely new form of scrutiny and criticism, which is already at its height in the digital age. One would have to think Facebook would want to protect its major brand advertisers, but we’ll have to see.
Second, cyber bullying is already a large problem among teens and tweens. With photo sharing and commenting featuring galore, it’s too easy for kids to pick on and bully each other digitally. Add a dislike feature and cyber bullying just got easier on Facebook. If a teen posts a photo and a group of bullies decides to gang up and dislike the photo 100 times, we could have a problem.
On the other hand, the variety makes sense. For years we’ve talked about the need to express more emotion on Facebook in response to posts in our newsfeed. Nothing is worse than when a friend posts something sad or tragic and that post gets 50 likes. That just doesn’t make sense.
Despite the fact that Zuckerberg addressed the possibility of a new feature this week, I wouldn’t hold your breath. We may not see this become reality until 2016.