It has long been the most requested function on Facebook but Mark Zuckerberg has previously said that adding a ‘dislike’ button to complement the ‘like’ button would be too negative an addition. Yet, this morning it was reported that the company has been considering the proposal with more seriousness than ever before after a question in a Q&A session at the Facebook headquarters.
Facebook’s system is one which has – despite a few updates and design changes here and there – largely remained unchanged since it began life in a Harvard Dorm room in 2004. The wall, the news feed and the like function have remained there throughout its ten year life, and although you could argue that the effect of Facebook has dwindled in recent years as its audience is diluted by other networks (Instagram has added 100 million users in just a year) the recipe for success has remained largely unchanged. Perhaps Zuckerberg and company think that there may well be scope for a dramatic overhaul of the network to bring people back in force.
Even though many have thought that a dislike button would be handy when someone posts about something you disagree with (I’m confident that many of my own posts about Russell Brand would achieve a fair few of these…) the introduction of such a button would probably be a terrible idea for the network.
It has already been reported that the site is one of the worst for bullying of all of the major Social Networking sites (and – perhaps surprisingly – the worst affected are 19 year old boys) so would this dislike button just cause the opportunity for more persistent and dogged bullying on the network? There’s every chance that people would be forced off the Facebook – or worse – if their posts are constantly disliked by a particularly vindictive bully.
But, less serious than this, is the fact that until now Facebook has been a positive thing for people to be involved in. Of course it may well be a little sad if your statuses never get any likes, but it would be far worse if they were to constantly receive dislikes. Rather than create meaningful discussion and debate over a topic which may cause disagreement (which is, after all, one of the main ways of socialising) it would end with a simple war of likes and dislikes. For example, a political debate which would be informative and help people to communicate may be cut short with such a binary addition.
Although Zuckerberg has been cautious to say that “one of things we’ve thought about for quite a while is what’s the right way to make it so that people can easily express a broader range of emotions” which suggests that a plain and simple dislike button is unlikely to appear he needs to tread this line very carefully. Of course the word ‘like’ may not be the sentiment to express when, for example, a friend posts about the death of a family member, a dislike button has even worse connotations and could cause the dramatic fall of an already slipping network.
A Facebook dislike button? Dislike.
Image Rights; Matthias Heil & Facebook