Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dislikes the idea of a ‘dislike’ button

12 Dec 2014

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook town hall Q&A session in Menlo Park, California, yesterday

While most of us at times would love to hit a ‘dislike’ button on some of the things we see in our Facebook news feeds, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says such a button would promote too much negativity.

In a candid town hall Q&A on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, California, yesterday, Zuckerberg explained why he did not think a ‘dislike’ button would serve any good on the social network.

“The ‘like’ button is really valuable because it’s a way for you to very quickly express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there and shares something,” Zuckerberg said.

“Some people have asked for a dislike button before. They want to be able to say a thing isn’t good and that’s not something that we think is good for the world. So we’re not going to build that. I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism on Facebook as to whether posts are good or bad.

“I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community.”

What is there not to like?

Zuckerberg said, however, he wants to give a better range to how people share reactions and emotions.

“But the thing that I think is very valuable is there are more sentiments that people want to express than positivity or that they like something. You know a lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives, or are tough cultural or social things and often people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing ‘like’ because like isn’t the appropriate sentiment when someone lost a loved one or is talking about a very difficult issue.

“So one of the things that we’ve had some dialogue about internally and that we’ve thought about for quite a while is what’s the right way to make it so people can easily express a broader range of emotions to empathise or to express surprise or laughter or any of these things. And you know you can always just comment, right, so it’s not like there isn’t a way to do that today, and a lot of people are commenting on posts all the time. But there’s something that’s just so simple about the like button. You know if you’re commenting, a lot of the time you feel like you have to have something witty to say or add to the conversation.”



‘Don’t worry about making mistakes too much’

On the question of why there are so many privacy updates on Facebook, Zuckerberg said:

“We update the privacy policy about once a year to reflect the product and policy changes from the last year. It used to be that Facebook was one website. Now Facebook as a company offers a bunch of different services. Facebook and News Feed, Messenger, Instagram.

“But as technology evolves, Facebook might want to build things on location, for example, so that’s something we’ll put into our privacy policy. We don’t want to change it too often. It’s a lot to read through and digest. Sometimes we do the changes well, sometimes we don’t and get criticised. But we need to follow the technical progress of new things we can do.”

In terms of life lessons and advice for budding entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg said making mistakes is part and parcel of the experience.

“Don’t worry about making mistakes too much. People ask what mistakes I wish I could have avoided. But mistakes are how you learn. The real question is how you learn from them. I started out when I was so young I didn’t know anything about running a company. You gotta keep on powering ahead and not stress too much about it.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years