Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long shied away from adding a “dislike” button to the website despite social media users wondering aloud -- usually via Facebook -- why there’s no counterpart to the popular “thumbs up” icon. According to Zuckerberg, it will probably never happen, at least not in the way users have expected.
The 30-year-old social media guru addressed the topic of adding a “dislike” feature to Facebook during a Q&A session at the company’s headquarters in California Friday. When asked by an audience member whether Facebook planned to add the button, Zuckerberg replied, “We’re thinking about it.” However, he quickly corrected himself, saying the social network is looking for new ways to allow users to express emotions, but a binary like-dislike system was out of the question. Judging whether posts are simply “good or bad,” he said, is not “good for the community.”
What’s appropriate to like on Facebook can be hazy at times. Users have often find themselves in quandary when it come to liking a friend’s melancholy post to show support or to avoid liking something for fear that “like” might be perceived as inapropriate. Zuckerberg recognized Facebook etiquette is sometimes unclear.
“What I think is valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express rather than just positivity,” Zuckerberg said. “People share things that are sad or are tough cultural or social things and people tell us they are not comfortable pressing ‘like’ because ‘like’ is not the appropriate sentiment when someone lost a loved one or is talking about a difficult issue.”
He hinted the company would explore other options for adding sentiment to Facebook. “I think giving people the power to express more emotions would be powerful, but we need to find out the right way to do it, so that it is a force for good and not bad, and demeaning the person out there,” he added.
Friday wasn’t the first time Facebook has had to face questions about a “dislike” feature. In October, former Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor, who created the thumbs up symbol in 2009, said the company had considered the “dislike” feature but ultimately decided against it amid concern it could be perceived as bullying. "The main reason is that in the context of the social network, the negativity of that button has a lot of unfortunate consequences," Taylor told Tech Radar. "If you want to dislike something, you should probably write a comment, because there's probably a word for what you want to say."