To Like or Not to Like?

Article by: Zaineen Karim

Whether it’s that cute vine of a dancing kitten, a friend’s masterpiece of a profile picture, or that touching ‘Humans of New York’ post, we use Facebook’s celebrated Like button more times than we care to count. An expression of approval or positivity is never something to worry about. However, what happens when you add a “dislike” button into the mix?

It appears that this dreaded dislike button is soon to become a reality. “People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years … 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,” confirms Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a public Q&A session.

Some say the button will improve expression of opinion as people will be able to express disapproval towards posts they do not agree with and shutting down haters will simply require the push of a button. Furthermore, several other websites have successfully implemented the option to dislike.

That being said, many perceive the impending Dislike button as a new platform for cyberbullying and expressions of negativity. There’s no guarantee that people will remain positive and receiving dislikes on a post can have dire consequences on the self-esteem and confidence of the poster.

Zuckerberg claims that the button is not for voting against posts, but instead it will allow people to express empathy in times of tragedy when giving a post the thumbs up may seem inappropriate. If successful, this could become a good way to express sympathy toward those who are facing tough times. According to an article on The Verge, “While Zuckerberg may have called it a “dislike” button, what Facebook is building may approximate better to a button for sharing compassion when a thumbs up is socially inappropriate.”

“Whenever I see a news story about, say, the refugee crisis, it doesn’t feel fitting that I ‘like’ the post — because who ‘likes’ the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people?” says Melissa D., a junior. “I think Facebook would need to be really careful about how they implement it, perhaps allowing users to disable the dislike button for their own walls, groups or pages,” she explains.

The question of how Facebook plans to limit the use of the Dislike button to expressions of empathy remains unanswered as the specifics of this feature have not yet been revealed. For now, we can just wait, watch, and anticipate.

Will a dislike button help us share grief as a community or is this a step towards Facebook turning into a violent battleground?

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