It’s finally happening! After years of people asking for one Facebook will actually release a new feature that allows people to express unhappiness with another person’s comment. Historically Facebook tried to address people’s desire for this feature with the “reaction” button but that just meant people spammed an angry emoji to display anger.
I don’t know about you but that didn’t exactly scratch the itch, especially given some of the horrific vitriol you can find on the internet. I once saw someone tell a breast cancer survivor she deserved God’s judgement and his comment just had a bunch of >:( faces which felt… odd. It didn’t feel like it was an appropriate response.
Well Facebook have finally begun trialling a dislike, or downvote, button. As can be seen in the tweets below the feature is already available for some people. Pressing the button, and flagging it as either offensive, untrue or spammy, means that the comment will be hidden for you but not others. It’s not a huge step forward but it’ll feel a lot better than just responding via a puffed up red face.
It’s not clear why Facebook are doing this but as one analyst pointed out,
“It has become very clear that Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want Facebook to have the responsibility of identifying what is offensive or misleading - and what is not - because that would put him into the position of being a publisher rather than a platform.
“He doesn't want to do that as it takes the business in a different direction - so he is leaning on the community to do it. It is an open question as to whether that's the right answer or not but that's where this fits in.”
Facebook is testing downvoting comments pic.twitter.com/SBOSQITotO— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) 8 February 2018
Facebook have recently announced an initiative to push “meaningful social interactions” via its platform as it desperately tries to avoid becoming a glorified news outlet. Alongside this new change Facebook is also rolling out a multimillion dollar fund to help non-political community groups, like churches and sports groups, thrive on Facebook so that the platform feels less “polarising”.