Why the Facebook Dislike Button WILL NOT BE a Dislike Button

This past week there has been a lot of talk about Facebook introducing a dislike button after the Townhall Q&A at Facebook last Tuesday. It is no surprise that most major news sites chose to highlight the dislike button of the topics that were covered in the Q&A. CNN’s headline read: “Mark Zuckerburg: Facbook working on a ‘Dislike’ button”. Time.com wrote: “Facebook is finally making a dislike button”, likewise bbc.com wrote “’Dislike’ button coming to Facebook, to name a few. Only if you were to click on the articles and read most of them that it would become clear that Facebook will not implement a dislike button. According to the Media Insight Projects, as cited by Washington Post, roughly six out of 10 people only read headlines, which meant that a lot of people got excited or angry by something that is not even happening.

Mark zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg explained at the Townhall Q&A that the reason it has taken them so long to respond to the Facebook community’s request for a dislike button is that they DO NOT want to build a dislike button, they do not want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on other people’s posts. Zuckerberg said a dislike button is not in line with the community they want to create. They do not want someone to go through the process of sharing a moment that was important and have someone else down-vote it. Zuckerberg even explained that people are not looking for the ability to down vote other people’s posts, what they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment, and if you are sharing something that is sad, it may not feel comfortable to like that post, but that friends and family want to be able to express that they understand and that they relate to you.

One of the arguments against a dislike button was that in terms of posts that felt weird or awkward to like, you could simply not respond to the post or you could write a comment. The problem with that is that most people post on Facebook to receive some form of response, if everyone were to ignore a sad or tragic post, then that might emphasize that person’s unhappiness or even make them feel unaccepted.

Currently what I see happening in the absence of a dislike button is that people will comment a sad emoji. This is a quick and easy way to express empathy, however, for some it may feel awkward to make the effort to comment on an acquaintance’s post.

dont feed the trolls

Another argument against the dislike button was that it could be used to bully people online. However, judging from what Zuckerberg said at the Townhall Q&A, I sincerely doubt that Facebook would implement something that cyberbullies and trolls could use as a handy tool in their destructive behavior. It would not only go against Facebooks mission of creating a community, it would also activate the wrath of the internet – which is a very scary thing.

Part of me thinks they may implement something along the lines of the feelings/mood you can add to your status updates. However, what I am hoping for is something completely out of the box, unexpected and inspiring that will enable us express empathy without too much effort. Whatever they may come up with, I am certain that it will not be a dislike button.


  1. Hello Camilla! I agree with your point along with others’ that a dislike button is not a good idea. The biggest problem I can see is that people tend to use or understand this button in different ways, and lots of misunderstanding may arise.
    First, some people treat it only content-related, so they use the button when seeing something terrible happen to their friends, such as when a friend posts a picture of his/her injured leg. But the others take it more personally. They tend to associate “the dislike” with others’ judgement of themselves. Therefore, they understand “the dislike” as an expression of the dislike of themselevs no matter what kind of content they post (negative or positive). Based on my own experience, this kind of misunderstanding also happen occasionally when we use the like button.
    Second, it’s also quite obscure in terms of the degree of the dislike and what part you really dislike in one particular post. For example, a picture about the smog around Beijing National Stadium (Known as the Bird’s Nest) may be disliked by some people. But people may explain it differently. Some dislike the air pollution in Beijing, some dislike the design of the Bird’s Nest, and the others dislike Beijing as a city.
    In addition, I really don’t think cyberbullying will be a big issue even if we use the dislike button. My reason behind is that we are capable of securing our social network by choosing to add a friend or not on Facebook. Nevertheless, the two reasons above have already made a dislike button a bad enough choice that we should avoid using. Moreover, since a dislike button targets our relatively close friend in the social network, its negative influence is far more destructive. After all, we care and value the voices from our friends more than others, and do not intend to let them down or cause any unnecessary misunderstanding for any reason!

  2. Hey Camilla! I’m really excited to see how the “dislike” button is going to affect Facebook. I definitely think it is a necessary addition to the platform, however. With the launch of Paper not long ago, Facebook made it clear what direction it is headed in; it wants to become much more than a social media platform, and rather bring everything that matters to people directly to them through every mobile platform that they use. That being said, lots of things matter to us that are not necessarily always happy or enjoyable moments; it is important to share even unhappy moments at times (and to share empathy with those that also share unhappy moments). The biggest issue I see personally is that it is now another choice to be made by the Facebook user.
    I have become more and more of a casual user on Facebook, as has everyone else. I don’t regularly share updates and pictures, relying on other platforms for these specialized social media tactics. Facebook is more and more suited for casual consumption, and just having the option to share empathy…well, that will make me inclined to share empathy!
    Professor talked about how several emotions might be made available, and that would just make the platform way too busy in my opinion, with each and every post eliciting a wide array of emotions and having to sort through them in an organized way. Maybe a single “dislike” or “empathy” emotion wouldn’t be too bad, but I wonder how much it would be used!

    1. I think Paper has become more of an experimentation for how Facebook users would like regular news juxtaposed to news from their friends. They’ve largely rolled this into Facebook proper.

  3. Camilla, thanks a lot for sharing this post. It felt like you were saying most of the things I was thinking about. Loved the fact that people don’t read except the titles of posts and articles, but many articles had mentioned in their content that a dislike/empathy button was pending in the process.

    I believed and thought that Facebook would be much smarter then that. Implementing a dislike button would encourage destructive behaviour and bullying as mentioned in your article. I honestly find myself doing as you said: If I don’t like a post I just don’t like it, or I simply post a sad emoji on the post. We now have a choice to do that, and all expressions on Facebook are until now positive and friendly. Introducing a dislike button would take Facebook and its mission into a new direction.

    What I thought about once reading your post, is that personally I didn’t find the “Feeling awesome, feeling annoyed etc..” feature very helpful. Not many people on my Facebook use it, and never have I felt the need to use it myself. I just want to share on Facebook my ideas and thoughts more then feelings and emotions. I thought Facebook went wrong with adding this feature, just like whatsapp did with the new emoji list (faces in different colors, thumbs in different colors.. etc). Although whatsapp did that to promote racial equality, but I don’t find people using it or finding it effective. I honestly don’t.

    So point is : Not everything people want, or not everything we think will work will indeed work. Implementing new features on platforms can take companies into unwanted situations so we should think wisely before making any decision, and if Facebook is thinking about the dislike button I’d say they shouldn’t do it. I really enjoyed reading your article, because it relates to the topic we discussed in class and to a topic the world has been discussing for the past few days. Great content, analysis and tone. Loved it!

  4. I agree with Faizan that Facebook has become a much more casual social network. I believe the site is now used for sharing news articles, Buzzfeed quizzes and other social/political information. Because users have shifted away from posting an abundance of personal information, a “dislike button” or similar function allowing for the display of emotion could promote intellectual conversations on the site. It could be a way for users to say they agree or disagree about a certain issue, and serve as a conversation starter. I’m interested to see how it goes!

  5. Very interesting read! I feel as though the Facebook “like” button has begun to encompass a lot more than just simply enjoying a post. Nowadays, liking a post can mean anything from “I support you.” to “I also feel the same as you do.” and I question whether or not the dislike button has a place at all. As many have said, if I don’t enjoy a post on Facebook, I simply scroll past it and continue about my day. 4-5 years ago, I remember there being a lot of attention about a dislike button. I was adding to groups, events, and pages that were all petitioning Facebook to introduce a dislike button. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but it seemed like, until recently, that was all I had heard in favor of the button. I simply don’t think it fills a need for a regular user.

    For brands, the question becomes a little more interesting. Brands are constantly seeking out consumer feedback and the introduction of a dislike button would give consumers the ability to directly show a brand that they are not onboard with whatever content or idea they are viewing. This could open up an entirely new segment of demographics and analytics for businesses. A business could easily see which portions of their audience liked or disliked a post and then dig into the numbers to see why. With this in mind, I think the dislike button would be a useful feature for brands looking to connect more effectively with their audiences.

  6. Nice post. It just goes to serve as a reminder that the press (and social media) often tells story in their simplest and lowest common denominator form. We’ll talk this week about how digital media is often very bad at preserving the nuance in human relationship that we are all very good at detecting.

  7. I tend to agree with you on the idea that Facebook will not reach it’s time where it will adopt a dislike button. I feel that there are already so many options as how to express sympathy/empathy/dislike in more expressive ways than with simply a dislike button. Though between friends it may seem comical to be able to use such a tool where we can create jokes between friends. However within the large scope of things I feel that people will also use the dislike button for harsher modes of communication. With innovations in technology occurring every day I feel that it is inevitable cyber-bullying is becoming more prominent amongst the interest. Hopefully Facebook can come up with an alternative tool that will allow people to express there empathy.

  8. I definitely agree with you (and Zuckerberg) in the sense that a dislike button is a bad idea for Facebook. We talked about this in class and Professor Kane also mentioned the idea that he thinks Facebook will come up with an alternative emotion, such as emoji’s. I think it is a good idea for Facebook to explore options besides for the classic “like” button because of the varying nature of posts. I see it all the time on my timeline that people tend to share their feelings or go on rants, where it would feel inappropriate to “like” their post. It’s also awkward to comment on a post when you don’t know the person very well. As such, I feel like new emotions (in some form) would be a great addition to subtly express your sympathy. I think it’s only a matter of time until Zuckerberg rolls out something in this area. Hopefully, whatever it is, will not create too much clutter on Facebook!

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