Perhaps the most-sought-after feature Facebook has been lacking may soon become a reality, as co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network will soon begin testing a dislike button.
Zuckerberg said during a town-hall question-and-answer session Tuesday from the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.:
People have asked about the dislike button for many years, and 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.
Zuckerberg has stressed in the past (see below) that he wanted a potential dislike button to be a “force for good,” and his comments Tuesday echoed that sentiment:
We don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create: You don’t want to go through the process of sharing some moment that was important to you in your day and have someone “downvote” it.
If you are sharing something that is sad … then it may not feel comfortable to like that post.
Zuckerberg did not address whether the dislike button would be available on posts by pages.
Zuckerberg discussed the topic of a dislike button during a town-hall Q&A in Menlo Park last December, saying at the time:
We’re thinking about it. It’s an interesting question. There are two things it could mean, and we’re considering and talking about doing one and not the other. The like button is really valuable because it’s a way for you to very quickly express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there and shares something. Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say, “That thing isn’t good.” That’s not something that we think is good. We’re not going to build that, and I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism on Facebook about whether posts are good or bad. I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community to help people share the important moments in their lives.
The thing I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express than just positivity or that they like something. A lot of times, people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives, or that are tough cultural or social things, and often, people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing like, because like isn’t the appropriate sentiment when someone lost a loved one or is talking about a very difficult issue.
One of the things that we have had some dialogue about internally, and have thought about for quite a while, is: What’s the right way to make it so that people can easily express a broader range of emotions—to empathize, or to express surprise, or laughter, or any of these things?
You can always just comment. It’s not like there isn’t a way to do that today. A lot of people are commenting on posts all the time. But there’s something that’s just so simple about the like button. If you’re commenting, a lot of the time, you feel like you have to have something witty to say, or add to the conversation. Everyone feels like they can just press the like button, and that’s an important way to sympathize or empathize with someone in an important moment that they put themselves out there to share.
I think giving people the power to do that in more ways, with more emotions, would be powerful, but we need to figure out the right way to do it so that it ends up being a force for good, and not a force for bad and demeaning the posts people put out there.
Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the dislike interaction has been “surprisingly complicated” to create, but he expects Facebook to begin testing it “soon.”