Facebook might move beyond the 'like' button, and many are wondering if the social network will give in to all those demands for a 'dislike' option.
At a Facebook townhall this week, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had this to say on the subject, "People have asked about the dislike button for many years. And today is a special day because we're actually going to say that we are working on it and we are very close to shipping a test to it. It took us a while to get here. We didn't want to just build a dislike button, we don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up and down on people's posts, that's not the kind of community we want to create."
Zuckerberg has a point when he says he's not keen on adding a 'dislike' button. Unlike other social media forums, such as Reddit, Imgur or 9Gag, where users can down-vote or up-vote a post, Facebook remains a very different beast.
'Like' on Facebook remains the most important of all social engagements, even more than comments. This is a quick response action but also a quantified form of social acceptance.
With 1.5 billion users, Facebook is the place where people are playing out their personal lives. Wedding albums, documenting your baby's growth, a vacation — these pictures or rather these life-events as Facebook calls them are all present here. People share them in the hope of validation, and if someone could just post a dislike on anyone's special moments, they might not be so quick and free to share them.
More than 100 likes on your Facebook photo and you are likely to feel very good about yourself. And it's not just about photos. Most of us want our fair share of 'Likes', be it on a funny status message or a political comment we might have shared.
So why go for an alternative? Perhaps because not everything shared on Facebook is about happy moments. People grieve on Facebook as well. Facebook allows family members to even convert the timeline of their deceased relative into a vault of sorts where memorials and tributes can be posted.
'Liking' these posts is never the appropriate response, but there's no other option. Unless you wish to post a comment expressing your condolence and you might not be prepared to do that always.
On Facebook, the appropriateness of 'likes' is not just limited to death. What happens when someone posts about a break-up or about depression or that they've lost a job? Sometimes people will 'Like' the post, sometimes they will send a sticker in the comments but as far as Facebook is concerned, there's no quick response action for such moments. A 'dislike' button, however, is not the solution.
From what Zuckerberg has hinted at, Facebook might soon let you express with more than one emotion in a post. A virtual hug, perhaps a button to express that you're feeling sad for the person or that you're sorry; we don't quite know what this new button will be. Facebook already lets users express various emotions in their status messages and we might just see some of these get converted into action buttons but it's too early to say.
For those expecting a straight up 'dislike' button though, Facebook might leave you disappointed.