Offend responsibly with Facebook’s Dislike button

Word on the street is Facebook is rolling out a Dislike button, but it’s not for telling your friends they suck, apparently.

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People love to talk about how much they hate Facebook. They hate its features, they hate its ads, and most of all they hate the people they call “friends”.

People hate Facebook so much nowadays that being a Facebook user requires a justification: Hey, I’m only on it because of this, or that, or whatever. There’s no shame in justifying it – no one wants to admit they’re a narcissist. Or nosy. Or both.

Facebook has become, to many, a necessary evil. I for one can’t do away with it entirely, for the sole reason that every stag do I have ever attended or organised has been coordinated entirely through the social network. For these rare occasions, I need Facebook.

But just because we use Facebook, doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Enter, the Dislike button

As covered by Ali in last week’s MyFive, Facebook recently announced that the roll out of a Dislike button was imminent, following demand from its users.

My first thoughts were that this would be great way for the haters to express their true feelings about their so called friends’ poor life choices. Also, it’s a troll’s dream.

However, it turns out the proposed button is intended to allow users to express sympathy or empathy, rather than being a tool for encouraging negativity or bullying.

Mark Zuckerberg told Business Insider,

“What they [users] really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment”.

So to be clear:

Here is a picture of my cat = Like
My cat is dead now = Dislike

But intentions are one thing, and actions are another. What’s stopping someone disliking the former and liking the latter? It’s kinda twisted, admittedly, but it’s not impossible.

If expressing empathy or sympathy is the intention, then perhaps Facebook should call their new button the ‘Empathy and Sympathy’ button, because at the moment its intended use is not all that clear.

If we’re talking about specifics, then perhaps Facebook should also consider rolling out the following:

  • The ‘Your wedding looked like a generic bore-fest’ button.
  • The ‘I saw this on Twitter yesterday’ button.
  • The ‘I saw this on Reddit two weeks ago’ button.
  • The ‘Your casual racism is the reason we cannot be friends in real life’ button.
  • The ‘No amount of time in the gym will hide those insecurities’ button.
  • The ‘That looks rank’ button.
  • The ‘I question your ability as a parent’ button.

If we’re going to offend our friends by letting our honest opinions be known, why not do it properly, is all I’m saying*.

The launch of the Dislike button looks inevitable, but Facebook has a big responsibility to ensure it’s used for all the right reasons. With cyber bullying an already very real issue, the last thing they’ll want to do is exacerbate the problem.

I can’t say the Dislike button will affect me one way or another (my twice yearly visits rarely warrant any discussion outside of the latest ‘Ladz on tour’ group message) but I’d love to hear what the more avid users amongst you think: a good move or a disaster waiting to happen?

*Offending friends, or anyone for that matter, is not cool.

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