Facebook is to add an empathy or “dislike” button to its social network, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said.
In their latest Q+A session held at Facebook’s headquarters Zuckerberg said the button would be a way for people to express empathy. He said Facebook was “very close” to having it ready for user testing.
The now iconic “like” button was launched in 2009 and since then the ability to dislike has been a constantly requested feature. To differentiate themselves from Reddit, where articles are up and down voted, Facebook has resisted the feature, up until now.
“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years,” Zuckerberg told the audience on Tuesday.
“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.”
However he went on to say he did not want it to be a mechanism with which people could “down vote” others’ posts.
This will allow people a more subtle response to your status update about your cat dying than a Like. But there’s an obvious risk that whatever button is created will be used by trolls to punish anyone who says something they don’t like. We can’t see many people disliking photos of their friends babies or pets, but overtly political posters beware!
There is also a prize for Facebook and it comes in the form of even more data about its users. Every time you interact with Facebook you share your interests and other information that Facebook allows advertisers to tap into. This precisely targeted advertising is great for companies to get their messages in front of their target demographic and this new feature allows more information on how their users feel about issues and products. Knowing we have a dislike, or rather don’t empathise, with a product is as important for advertisers looking to maximise their Facebook advertising.
We’ll keep you posted on his new feature and how it affects business pages and advertisers when it rolls out.