Will offering Facebook users with a Dislike button provide them with more ammunition to spread hate across the social media platform?
The Dislike button has been one of the most popular debates out of all Facebook’s features, and it could be time to weigh up the potential benefits and drawbacks of allowing users to voice their disagreements.
At the Facebook HQ, CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes his view on the Like button, as a way to “express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there to share something.”
He goes onto to say: “You know a lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives, or are tough cultural or social things and often people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing Like because Like isn’t the appropriate sentiment when someone lost a loved one or is talking about a very difficult issue. Giving the people the power to do that in more ways with more emotions would be powerful but we need to work out the right way to do it. So that it ends up being a force for good not for bad and demeaning the post people are putting out there.”
This expresses a valid reason to avoid adding a Dislike button to Facebook’s list of features. If, in some situations, even a Like is not considered appropriate, then maybe a Dislike button would just add fuel to the fire.
Three years ago, it appeared Facebook was attempting to meet users halfway by introducing Reactions into the news feed. Zuckerberg’s company revealed that more than 300 billion Reactions were used in the past year, with the more positive Reactions being the most popular. Much to people’s surprise, surpassing the ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ Reaction.
However, this did not satisfy the users and as a result, last year, Facebook trialled an ‘upvote/downvote’ button for comments. Facebook was clear about their intentions behind this, stating that the purpose of this was not for disagreement, but instead, to take away the impact from comments with “bad intentions.” This lasted all of a few weeks, and then they disappeared, with no noise of their return.
Reddit user, Jamie Tallica commented on the potential use of a Dislike button:
“Imagine being a generally ignorant, racist, bigoted idiot and commenting something obscene online? You might post a comment that really offends 18,000 out of 20,000 people, but it shows 2K Likes from like-minded idiots. This sends out the wrong message - this tells people who are just passing that the opinion is popular, there’s a lack of balance without the effort of commenting and getting involved in spat. Add a Dislike function and suddenly that comment has 2K Likes, but also 18K Dislikes, which tells people that this is an unpopular viewpoint and might make people think twice about what they say, or take a rain check on their attitudes.”
This proposes an interesting argument, as mentioned by Tallica, the ability to comment leaves posts far more open to disagreement and argument as opposed to a Dislike button. Which offers a subdued and quick way to offer your opinion.
This can also be applied to the current matter of fake news on Facebook, as other users can catch out the promotion of fake news with a Dislike option. Once again, giving voice to an opinion very matter-of-factly. Whereas the current use of the Angry Reaction could quite easily allude to anger towards the content topic, not the validity of that content.
There are of course, just as many arguments stating this Dislike option would not be beneficial.
The main, and quite possibly deciding reason against a Dislike button, is the potential for damage in the relationship between Facebook and other brands and businesses. If users were able to Dislike adverts by major companies, this gives way to negative feedback, which could affect ad revenue and traffic.
Although the use of a Dislike button on Facebook could force users to think more before posting their opinions, it has an even greater potential for misuse, and with the issues Facebook is facing concerning fake news, it may not be the best time to add a gamble into the mix.