What Facebook’s “dislike” button really means.

So it is no surprise that Zuckerberg has finally given into users requests for a “dislike” button on Facebook. Having previously been adamant that adding a “dislike” button was not something Zuckerberg wanted to add alongside the “like” button as he feared the negative backlash it could bring.

So why has he finally given into users demands and started working on this new button? This week Zuckerberg said “I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it… What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” adding “Not every moment is a good moment.”

He continues to explain how the “dislike” button is to help users become more empathetic with friends and avoid the awkwardness of liking a status that clearly shouldn’t be liked such as users expressing concerns about recent events, and statuses about a death.

But lets look at this at a closer level, and discuss what the real reason behind the new addition to Facebook could mean. Everyone that uses Facebook is clearly aware their news-feed is based on what is popular in terms of brands or posts they have liked. The algorithm used by Facebook is effective as it measures what attracts the most user engagement, so if users chose not to like statuses about sadness then it wont show up on news-feeds therefore throwing off the purpose of this algorithm. Hence the need for the “dislike” button.

Can this really be the result of pestering users asking Zuckerberg to introduce a button that “dislikes” comments and statuses?

I personally think not, in my opinion Zuckerberg has been quoted saying the button is  to create empathy within users, whilst the users may or may not use it for that purpose. But I believe Zuckerberg is using this new button as a way to keep users wanting to stay on Facebook and in essence keeping Facebook fresh. It is also a great marketing tool for Facebook as the use of a “dislike” button can allow Facebook to continue to measure our likes and dislikes and shape adverts to be more relevant to users.

The “dislike” button is currently still in the making, so it is fair to say it could be either effective or not, who is to say. I will say however though that Zuckerberg has been very clever in terms of the reasoning behind the addition and it is a great marketing ploy so congrats Mr Zuckerberg I look forward to seeing how the “dislike” addition will benefit both Facebook and its users.


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