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Facebook moves beyond the 'like' button

Facebook moves beyond the 'like' button

While hesitant about a 'dislike' button, Zuckerberg close to testing new options

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is looking at adding other options to its "like" button, but is reluctant to offer only a "dislike" option, which could be mean-spirited.  Credit: Enoc, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is looking at adding other options to its "like" button, but is reluctant to offer only a "dislike" option, which could be mean-spirited. Credit: Enoc, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Want to quickly react to a friend's Facebook post about an accident or a sick relative but don't want to hit the like button?

Facebook may soon have another option for you.

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, said in a town hall forum on Tuesday that the world's largest social network is working on enabling uses to hit a button and express more than just a simple "like."

Company programmers are working on adding a dislike button and possibly other options and are getting close to launching a test.

"People have asked about the dislike button for many years," said Zuckerberg in response to what he said is a frequent question offering more than like option. "Today is the day we get to say we're working on it and we're very close to shipping a test of it."

However, Zuckerberg said he has been hesitant to offer a dislike button because he doesn't want Facebook to turn into a mean-spirited forum.

"It took us a while to get here because we didn't want to just build a dislike button because we don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts," he added. "That doesn't seem like the kind of community we want to create. You don't want to go through the process of sharing some kind of moment that was important to you in your day and then have someone down vote it. That isn't what we're here to build in the world."

This isn't the first time Zuckerberg has voiced some hesitancy about adding a dislike option.

Late in 2014, at another town hall event, Zuckerberg said he was concerned about the toxicity that a dislike button could spread on the social network.

From what Zuckerberg said this week, what the company wants to do is give users a way to quickly show empathy, and that's how Zuckerberg hopes the new button or buttons will be used.

"Not every moment is a good moment," he noted. "If you are sharing something that is sad, whether it's something in current events, like the refugee crisis that touches you or if a family member passed away, then it may not feel comfortable to like that post but your friends and people want to express that they understand and relate to you. So I do think it's important to give people more options than just like as a quick way to emote and share what you're feeling on a post."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said he likes the idea of adding more buttons to Facebook posts, but he's not sure he likes the idea of a like button.

"Right now the only option is like, so if a friend of mine is in an accident, I want to be able acknowledge it but not like it," he added. "To me disliking is going to lead to popularity contests, bullying and stuff. Right now, I know kids talk a lot about "my post had 35 likes and Sarah's only had 10." Now add in dislikes and you have a mess."

Kerravala said he hopes Facebook doesn't add a dislike button and instead adds something like "thanks for the info."

"I just don't see the upside," he said. "Only hurt feelings, which drive people away from social media."

Getting the new button or buttons ready hasn't been easy. "Actually, it's surprisingly complicated to make an interaction you want to be that simple," said Zuckerberg. "We have an idea we think we're going to be ready to test soon. Depending on how that does, we'll roll it out more broadly."

Last year, Facebook tested a buy button on users' news feeds.

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