For nearly six years, Facebook “likes” have been great ways to quickly acknowledge pictures of pets or children doing cute things, modeling new outfits or something more substantial like announcing a new job, college acceptance letters, or a spectacular vacation spot. But sometimes posts reflect unhappy news, such as a death in the family, an “F” on an important test or a car accident. It seems like a glaring omission that there is no “dislike” button or other symbolic way to reflect negative emotions; however, Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg recently implied the omission is intentional and earns a thumbs down from him.
Zuckerberg admitted that people have “asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say, ‘That thing isn’t good,’ and we’re not going to do that.” He indicated that he personally does not think that would be very valuable socially, or “great for the community.”
Zuckerberg discussed the dearth of a Facebook “dislike” button as he hosted his second public Q-and-A session today at his firm’s Menlo Park, Californiac headquarters. The sessions were developed to allow him to address Facebook users directly versus through the media.
During the questioning, Zuckerberg acknowledged the thumbs down discrepancy and that a “like” may be inappropriate in many situations, such as a sad post. He told the crowd that Facebook has thought about some sort of thumbs down icon. However, they want such a button to spread negativity. Yes, the ability to comment is there, but sometimes a simple acknowledgement would be welcome.
“A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives,” Zuckerberg said. He indicated that it is an area of discussion and the company has grappled with the right way to let people to express a broader range of reactions or emotions. “We’re thinking about it,” he said. However, Zuckerberg added, “Don’t expect a new button anytime soon.” It seems strange that, in today’s day and age of emoticons, in emails and texts that Facebook is reluctant to make a change.
The Facebook chief also commented about Facebook and its ability to help people stay connected to other people they know and their lives. “What we’re trying to do with Facebook is extend this fundamental human capacity for maintaining social relationships.” He commented on the ability to use Facebook to keep in touch with others (or give a thumbs up) that it would be impossible to see regularly.
Zuckerberg also indicated the troops at Facebook have been spending a lot time discussing the role of social media. They have particularly focused on bridging the divide highlighted by the events in Ferguson (Missouri). He explained that Facebook takes its role in civic debate seriously. Zuckerberg said, “There are two things we want to do. The first is we want to give everyone a voice,“ he said. “The second thing that’s really important is diversity of opinion.” In his opinion, networks of friends, and their friends, are ultimately bring users more diverse opinions than they could have encountered in other media. Zuckerberg is clearly optimistic that people do not merely associate with people who think like they do and a suggestion otherwise earns a dislike, Facebook button or not.
By Dyanne Weiss