July 23, 2015
Surely, you heard the hullabaloo yesterday when Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook may soon be introducing a “dislike” button.
You probably thought, Finally, a way to dismiss spiteful memes, condescending brand posts, obnoxious ads and all manner of CrossFit photos with one simple click!
I mean, that wasn’t just me, right?
This is a big deal. The ability to passive-aggressively unfollow, unlike and unfriend have long been Facebook staples. But to show one’s distaste for a post in no uncertain terms by clicking a button? This could either be the best or worst idea the company has ever had.
Why it’s the best idea
Facebook’s advertising business was built around the idea we all are the sum of our interests. This has long meant the posts we like, the brand pages we like and the stuff we say we like in our profiles have collectively allowed advertisers to be very effective in deploying targeted Facebook ad campaigns.
However, what we like on Facebook only tells half our story. You either like something — or you don’t like it. But that isn’t the same as actively disliking it, and that significant degree of nuance will allow Facebook — and its advertisers — to better understand how to engage users and create the best possible experience. Overnight, Facebook could offer the most robust, data-supported psychographic profile of its more than one billion users around the world. Which is nice.
Why it’s the worst idea
What about those legions of faithful advertisers? Will “dislike” buttons be disabled for their paid posts? Will trolls deploy massive “dislike” campaigns against the brands they loathe? What impact will “dislikes” have the visibility of ad campaigns?
Or what about the painstaking content we social-media marketers spend months making? Will our most earnest creations be subjected to the digital equivalent, meh? The trouble with a gesture as simple as a click is the part where the gesture is as simple as a click.
And what about cyberbullying?
But in reality, it’s probably going to fall somewhere in between
It’s been reported by numerous media outlets and acknowledged by Zuckerberg himself that a “dislike” button has long been one of the most commonly requested features among users. Well, here it is, the rare moment of appeasement by Facebook. Give it a few months and we’ll start to hear demand for an “indifferent” button.