During a recent Q&A session, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg created frenzy among social media users by confessing the possibility of introducing a ‘Dislike’ button to the illustrious social network site. Is this in response to feedback from users or simply a strategy for advertisement purposes?
Facebook users can ‘Comment’, ‘Share’ or usually ‘Like’ as a response to these issues yet Zuckerberg recognises that a ‘Like’ is sometimes not appropriate when all the person wants “is the ability to express empathy” on a certain post or comment. Facebook holds a double-edged sword in this: how does producing a negative symbol such as a ‘Dislike’ button, tie into the community aspect at the root of their mission statement?
As seen on YouTube and Reddit, a ‘Dislike’ button or a countering icon to a ‘Like’ button can be very effective for users. Facebook could generate stronger feedback and real responses to online advertisements as opposed to users just scrolling by unappealing content. Although Facebook is the most commonly used social network site with over 1.3 billion monthly users, the company’s growth and flare has somewhat subsided recently. Advertisement on the site needs to be re-visited as a revenue outlet in order to acquire and retain new customers on the platform.
Yet offering a ‘Dislike’ button inadvertently promotes the serious issue of cyber bullying on a personal level or slander on a corporate one. Despite not delving into detail, Zuckerberg identified that he does not want Facebook to become a “forum where people are voting up and down on people’s posts” suggesting he recognises the significance of what comes next for Facebook.
Perhaps a ‘Dislike’ button is too contentious; an ‘Acknowledgment’ button may be more suited to the Facebook community. Is introducing a ‘Dislike’ button really that urgent? Especially when considering that before Facebook, gladiators were the only ones who cared about receiving thumbs up or thumbs down!
By Eoghan Kennefick