Social Media

Why You Can’t ‘Dislike’ Facebook

December 14, 2009

When Facebook first started, Mark Zuckerberg intended it to be used as an online simulation of real-life relationships. To his credit, Facebook has become just that. From relationships to catching up with friends, Facebook has taken networking to new levels. Still, Facebook has a ways to go if it intends on being a true online representation of real-life.

The biggest complaint of which is the ability to dislike content on Facebook. Although Facebook allows you to ‘like’ content from your friends, they don’t have an option to ‘dislike’ something. The question then becomes what do you do if you find something so offensive that ‘hide content’ just doesn’t work for you?

Facebook Isn’t MySpace

No matter what the public says, in the end, Facebook will have the final say on how they want their social network to function. With that said, one of the most important things that Facebook considers when they introduce new features, such as their new Facebook privacy policy, is not only how it will affect users, but also their brand.

Take for example MySpace. Although it is still widely considered to be one of the top social networks online, users have migrating away to other sites like Facebook and Twitter. This can be attributed to a multitude of factors, some of which include numerous ‘MySpace Stalkers’ in the news and the lack of content control made evident by the excess number of spammers. While MySpace continues to make strides toward improving their image, the damage has already been done due to their lack of adjustments over the years.

Bringing our attention back to Facebook, it becomes an almost night and day comparison of the two social networks. Not only do we see the problems that are currently plaguing MySpace, but we also see what Facebook could have become.

Facebook could have let users embed music on their profiles and have allowed custom backgrounds, but is that what we want? Would that make the community happy? It may for some, but it has the possibility of bringing about indefinitely more problems. If Facebook wanted to be the new MySpace they would have. Instead, Facebook took a page out of MySpace’s playbook and did everything they should have done.

Keeping It Positive: The Like Button

As much as people want a ‘dislike’ button on Facebook, the fact remains that it could do more bad than good. If Facebook were to create the ‘dislike’ button, everyone’s social network would change more than people think.

Currently, with the Facebook ‘like’ button, it allows users to ‘like’ updates and content from their friends. By having this feature, it creates a positive feel throughout the community and can also be used as way to show support. Facebook thrives off of presenting itself as a ‘positive’ environment. By introducing the ‘dislike’ button, users can then dislike everything from photos to relationships which would ultimately lead to conflict. Now the argument can be made that this would be a rare scenario, but the truth is that it probably wouldn’t. With no rules on what or when you can dislike, abuse of the ‘dislike’ button is almost guaranteed. Feelings will get hurt and a negative environment will be created.

“Dislike” Without A Button

Many may still insist that a Facebook ‘dislike’ button is necessary, but Facebook already has systems in place that allow you to deal with situations that you may deem ‘dislike-able.’

Hide

If you don’t like what someone shares or posts, changing how you view their updates is one of the most immediate options you have on Facebook. By doing so, you are limiting what you see and theoretically, ignoring their updates. While the downside to this is that you can’t just ignore individual updates, it does provide an alternative to offensive content.

Privacy Settings

Another alternative is to change your privacy settings for certain users. While this may not directly deal with the problem, it does narrow down your network and also gives you options on how friendly you want to be with your network.

Close Your Eyes

If these options still don’t work for you, there is one last option: ignore them. Yes, closing your eyes or just scrolling past their update can be in some cases, your best bet.

Facebook Dislike Plugin

Although Facebook hasn’t officially created a ‘dislike’ button, that hasn’t stopped developers from creating a Facebook Dislike add-on for Facebook on Mozilla. After installing the plugin, users are not only able to ‘like’ things, but now able to ‘dislike’ as well. The catch for this is that in order for others to see it, they have to have the add-on installed as well.

To date, there has been over 360,000 downloads of the add-on. It is important to note that the number of downloads doesn’t equal the number currently active so it is hard to determine exactly how popular or un-popular it is.

If Facebook is supposed to be an online representation of our real-life relationships, then something we have to ask ourselves is if we would tell someone that we didn’t like something they said in person? Many of us would probably say no, and that is just what Facebook is banking on.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Scott Allison December 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    This is an interesting article, I hadn’t noticed there wasn’t a dislike option. What does amuse me is when someone posts something like “I had a horrible day and then got soaked in the rain on the way home”, and then their friends start liking it! Does this mean they are sympathising or actually like the fact their friend has had a rubbish day??

    My problem with Facebook is that it’s a simple concept made complicated. I am still a novice on the site and the range of features (and now privacy options) is really confusing.

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  • Reply Mark February 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I like your idea that facebook have to create a positive environment, I wonder to what degree they will continue to artificially craft the users’ actions?

    If present trends continue the level to which social media sites can shape our interactions is somewhat concerning!

  • Reply Scott March 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Ask yourself, do you want your “I like” endorsement on a site that turns out to be deceptive, inappropriate, malicious, or in some other way, objectionable or harmful? Facebook Applications and links can be be any of those things, and discovering their true nature can take time, even days to discover.

    By not allowing a person to take back their endorsement you may create a deceptive ‘virtual web of trust’. How can that ever be positive?

    At the VERY least, I should be able to take back my “I Like” vote, after I discover that the link is bogus.

    The suggestion that I should “hide” something objectionable is moot, if I have already clicked on the “I like” button, because now my endorsement has gone out to every other poor should that would see the link.

    Example: A man walks up to you and says, “If you shout out what an honorable man I am to everyone in this crowd, I will give you a million dollars, no strings attached”. So you yell it out for everyone to hear. The trouble is, he was lying, and you don’t get your million dollars. In the real world, if I didn’t get it, I could then yell out, this man lied. In Facebook, I am voiceless.

  • Reply JosephYi March 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    @Scott Thanks for the comments! I really appreciate it. Facebook does actually have an ‘unlike’ feature that allows you change whether you like something or not.

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