Facebook is finally coming out with a 'dislike' button after years of requests by its social media platform users. In a Q&A session at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park in California, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the platform was "very close" to having the new button ready for user testing.
"People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years. Probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it," he said.
The button would be a way for Facebook users to express empathy, he said, adding that he did not want it to turn into a mechanism for people to "down vote" others' posts on the social media platform. It will be for times when clicking 'like' on 'sad' posts felt insensitive.
The Guardian says that Zuckerberg had for years dismissed requests for such a button to avoid a Reddit-style voting system of 'likes' versus 'dislikes' below someone's posts. "What they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment," Zuckerberg said.
He did not say when the new button will be rolled out or what it will be officially called. "We have an idea what we're going to be ready to test soon, and depending on how that does, we'll roll out it more broadly," he said, according to CNN.
Professor Andrea Forte, an expert on social and participatory media at Drexel University in Philadelphia said the new button will not result in Facebook users suddenly turning on each other's posts, BBC reports.
"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," she said.
Time said the 'dislike' button is about "opening up an avenue for users to interact with interesting content that would be awkward to do anything with inside Facebook's current framework. It said in the long term, showing users a variety of things they deeply care about will only keep them coming back to Facebook.