Thumbs Down to Facebook Dislike Button

On Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter describing some upcoming changes to Facebook.

The changes involve updated privacy settings and the discontinuation of regional networks (read the open letter here). But judging by the comments, it’s not privacy settings that most users care about.

What the users really want is a dislike button.

This past February Facebook unveiled its “Like” button, which allows friends to give each others’ status updates, Wall comments, photos, etc. a big thumbs up. There is no corresponding thumbs down button. And it seems Facebook users don’t like that one bit.

Here are some typical comments:

please dude make a “dislike” button! everyone wants it!

BUTTTT………Dislike button pleasssee mark!!!

a fail button!

dislike button- hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dislike button!!! thatd definitelyyyyy be awesomeeeeeee!!!

(By the way, the second most commonly requested feature based on these comments? Customizable background graphics/wallpaper and music. MySpace, in other words.)

I vote thumbs down on the dislike button. Its proponents say they need the ability to say that something sucks. And I know we can all learn positive lessons from negative feedback. But I feel like there are already many, many venues to express our dislike of something. Facebook is supposed to be about sharing and connecting, or asking questions.

We’ve certainly had legitimate criticism and negative comments posted to our university’s Facebook page — and that’s totally fine and appropriate. But imagining how a dislike button would affect higher education pages is a bit depressing. What would happen if I posted, say, the upcoming Glee Club concert (sorry, Glee is on) and it’s met with a fistful of downward facing thumbs? Total bummer, man. A dislike button would make it that much easier to toss off a thoughtless, hurtful diss and could turn a community of “fans” into a much sadder place to be.

So no dislike button for me. And no wallpaper while you’re at it, please. I dislike wallpaper.

–lori

8 comments

  1. I completely disagree with you Lori. If you’re going to have a “like” button, then you should also have “dislike” button, for all the same reasons.

    If you post a status saying “my dog died today, pretty depressed”, then I “like” that, you could view that as a “thoughtless hurtful diss”. So what you’re claiming would be possible with a “dislike” button is already possible today with the “like” button.

    You seem to be assuming that disliking something is always a bad thing, but that’s just not true. Liking something can be seen as good or bad, and the same goes for disliking something.

    If we’re not going to have a “dislike” button, then remove the “like” button.

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  3. Tony Zanders says:

    @scott I went down that same train of thought Scott, but realized that they can’t actually have a “dislike” button, because it would be impossible to discern if the commenter was referring to disliking the person’s comment, or disliking the person for posting that comment.

    @lori I challenge the notion of the dislike button creating an unhappy environment on FB. Like Shakespeare wrote, “The mob is fickle.” And if you followed up a wall post with 10 dislikes, that people loved, I’m sure it would still get 10 likes. The value of the dislike button in my head is the same as the value proposition for the like button. It gives fans a low-commitment outlet to express their feelings towards a post. There’s value to that for the person posting, because it can be used as a very quick method of polling your audiences feelings towards something.

  4. Scott: It does get a bit muddy since there are at least two possible meanings for “liking” something. It can simply mean “I endorse or support what you’ve said or posted” or it could mean “I am happy and pleased about what you’ve just said or posted.” If someone posts “feeling really sick today” as their status, which of those two meanings would a “like” click convey? My worry with the dislike button is that it would more often mean “I think you guys suck” as opposed to “man, I am sad to hear that.”

    Tony: I probably being a Pollyanna about this, but its precisely that low-commitment aspect of the dislike button that has me thinking that it might lead to a needlessly negative atmosphere, especially on fan pages. Of course, people are still free now to say that something sucks, they just have to think about it for a second and take the time to put it in words. We’ve had many occasions where someone will write a negative comment about something we’ve posted, other fans jump in on both sides, and it becomes a discussion. I think that’s pretty cool when that happens, and I think a “battle of thumbs” would be less interesting.

  5. Yorkshire Pudding says:

    Personally I like wallpaper. If picked thoughtfully it can really enhance the appearance of a room. Regarding this “facebook” thing you waffle on about, I’d just say why can’t people simply be satisfied with the faces they have been given instead of envying other people’s faces or seeking plastic surgery to alter their own faces?

  6. Rather than a “dislike” button, perhaps there could be a whole drop-down menu of choices to convey sorrow or sympathy over the news posted.

    I am kidding, of course.

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