Lifestyle writer | Amber Huntzinger | firstname.lastname@example.org
After years of Facebook users asking for a dislike button, Mark Zuckerberg finally announced September 15 that they are working on it, and are very close to testing the button. This news of development comes as a far cry from last year, when he said that it wouldn’t happen anytime soon. And with this exciting news came a lot of controversy. Will it really be a dislike button? Will this lead to more bullying? What does this mean for advertisers?
In the past, Zuckerberg has seemed reluctant to make a viral dislike button because he felt it could demean people, and he wants the button to be a ‘force for good.’ However, he stated last Tuesday in a Q&A session at Facebook’s headquarters, “Not every moment is a good moment and if you are sharing something that is sad, like the refugee crisis that touches you, or a family member passed away, it may not feel comfortable to like that post, but your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand and that they relate to you. So I do think it’s important to give people more options than just like as a quick way to emote and share what they are feeling on a post.”
However, Zuckerberg never did say for sure that Facebook would be getting a dislike button. Business Insider said Zuckerberg stated, “What they really want is the ability to express empathy.”
USA Today has said that this will not be called a dislike button, but rather, “a ‘sympathize’ button or a series of buttons that convey support or solidarity, or express other similarly positive emotions.” If this really is the case, it isn’t far from when Facebook engineers designed a “sympathize” button during a hackathon back in 2013.
To all the Facebook users worried about potential bullying, this may not even be an issue if the button is not, in fact, a dislike. In an interview with USA Today, Dr. Andrea Forte, a social media professor at Drexel University, said, “They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions, like frustration with ads popping up in their feeds, but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments, I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss.”
Psychologist Milene Jeffirs, published author and the founder of an anti-bullying program called “Connect,” feels that young people need to learn how to disagree. “We don’t have to agree with everybody. We don’t have to agree with everything we see,” Jeffirs said.
As for advertisers, the website SocialTimes summed it up best when they wrote, “With the dislike button on the horizon, businesses have the opportunity to glean additional insights directly from their customers, and demonstrate empathy both on an individual level (by responding) and an aggregate level (by improving the customer experience).”
The Facebook dislike or “sympathy” button may come with a lot of questions as to how it will work and affect the overall process of Facebook, but some are still eagerly awaiting the release of a companion for the like button.