Photo credit: A "dislike" button is on its way, but probably not one like this. Mathias Rosenthal/Shutterstock.
In a Q&A session at Facebook’s HQ in California yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they were developing a button so that people could show empathy for posts. For example, if someone announces the death of a relative, or posts about a sombre event, you could click this button to show sympathy, rather than “liking” it and perhaps seeming insincere or insensitive.
“Not every moment is a good moment, right?” said Zuckerberg at the event. “And if you are sharing something that is sad, whether it’s something in current events like the refugee crisis that touches you or if a family member passed away, then it might not feel comfortable to Like that post. But your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand and that they relate to you.”
Facebook hasn’t announced what the button will be called, or what symbol it will use, but as it’s not actually a “dislike” button it’s unlikely to be a “thumbs down” icon, as is often touted. There’s also no firm release date for the new feature yet, which Zuckerberg said they had been working on for a while. But he added it was “surprisingly complicated” to make the seemingly easy feature, no doubt due to the various algorithms Facebook uses to sort posts that may need to be changed.
Zuckerberg stressed the point that there won't be a true “dislike” button any time soon. “We didn’t want to just build a 'dislike' button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts,” he said. “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’s important to you in your day and then have someone down vote it. That isn’t what we’re here to build in the world.”
So there you have it. Facebook will soon have a new feature. Empathy button? Solemn pat on the back? Poke of sympathy? Who knows what it will be called. But there are a few free suggestions for you, Mark.