According to Tech Crunch, the dislike button has long been the most requested feature from Facebook users. So when Zucks announced in a public Q&A in September that the brand was ‘working on a way to show empathy for victims of tragedies and other things that are inappropriate to Like’ (uni taught me nothing. There will be no referencing), the world went apeshit (but not that apeshit really). In his lovely speech he mentioned that this new dislike button would not be a soul-destroying monster that ‘turns Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts’ but rather that it would provide the community with the ability to ‘express empathy’. So basically, Facebook’s aim is to create a button that allows users to show empathy with any posts that include sad events.
Whilst I agree that it might be nice to provide users with an option to show sympathy for negative events, I feel that a comment with words of condolences and well wishes is a much more effective and appropriate mechanism than a very impersonal dislike button. Perhaps the even bigger issue is that whilst Zucks has specifically said that he does not want this new button to encourage the ‘down voting’ of posts, he does not control the internet (or maybe he does) and as we all know, if you give the people the power, they will use it and abuse it. Can anyone else see the imminent newspaper headlines? ‘Popularity status now defined by ratio of likes to dislikes on any singular Facebook post’ or ‘cyber bullying at an all-time high’
Sneaky sidenote, it seems Facebook has thought of the above implications with a recent update to the dislike button drama; trialling a new feature in limited countries called “Reactions” which let you respond to any post with a choice of six emojis, as opposed to just a like.
Another red flag I see immediately, and one that probably aligns more with what you all came here for, is how these choices in engagement buttons (and potential dislike button) could affect brands on social. In my opinion, it opens both positive and negative doors for brands. On one hand it gives haters and trolls a lot more power to debunk otherwise great social content just because it’s ‘dirty advertising on my feed’. On the other hand, it will force brands to revise content strategies in accordance with what their fans really want to see.
It will definitely be interesting to see where Facebook takes this new freedom of engagement and how it affects both the commercial and non-commercial social community.
You can watch the full ‘You know’ speech by the God of Facebook here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkJXOKCtYzQ
And below the options that have taken over the simple dislike button: