Years after it was first suggested, Facebook is getting a dislike button

16 Sep 2015

Despite it already slipping out of the consciousness of most Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg threw something of a curveball by confirming that a dislike button is to come to the social network, but why now?

During a recent public Q&A, Facebook’s founder announced the news that the company is looking into introducing a dislike button, which will work alongside the estimated 4.5bn likes generated each day.

“People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg said last night. “We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community.”

According to The Telegraph, the dislike button is not being ushered in to make things a bit more uncomfortable by allowing people to show their dislike of someone else’s ill-advised post, but rather for more empathetic reasons.

The issue Facebook sees, rather, is the lack of ability to show empathy with a person when they post a particularly emotional and sad post – as of now users are left with the options of liking the post, or ignoring it.

I empathise with this

This has become particularly apparent recently with people sharing stories of the plight of Syrians seeking asylum in Europe due to the ongoing war that has ravaged the region, which people may be reluctant to ‘like’ but do want to show their engagement with.

Speaking last December, however, about the potential for bringing in a dislike button, Zuckerberg refused to develop it on the basis of ushering in newfound animosity.

“Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, ‘That thing isn’t good.’ That’s not something that we think is good for the world,” he said last year.

“The thing that I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express.”

The dislike button will also potentially play a major part in Facebook’s gargantuan marketing arm, with companies perhaps finding themselves on the end of a dislike button on their promoted posts, in the same way you can tell the social network to stop showing you posts from that company.

At this time, however, Facebook and Zuckerberg have been scant with details and have refused to comment any further until they have something concrete developed.

Dislike thumb image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic