Facebook’s ‘dislike’ button – a click away from communication confusion?

Facebook's dislike button

So Facebook has announced that it is creating a ‘dislike’ button for users to empathise with sad statuses.  Some may argue that this is much needed, as the original and iconic ‘like’ button, launched in 2009, has led to some very awkward updates.

For example, when someone mourns the death of a loved one, or the breakup of a relationship, ‘like’ is currently the only option available to show empathy (of course you could leave a comment, but in today’s super-busy world, it’s far too time-consuming for some).  Yet even if it is a ‘like’ for the status, rather than the situation, it still seems inappropriate. In fact, the ‘like’ button has become so synonymous with confusion, it has been parodied by many comedies including this classic:

Family Guy - Lois' Facebook like

Therefore one could argue that the ‘dislike’ button, which is currently under development (who knew a button would take so long to produce?), is long overdue. However, time will tell whether the ‘dislike’ button will lead to further confusion.

For example, when TFL announce another tub strike in London and your friend bemoans her morning commute, claiming strikers have no right to complain with their ‘high salaries’ (a point raised many times during the summer strikes) do you like or dislike?  If you ‘like’, are you amused at her travel chaos, or are you in agreement with her point?  If you ‘dislike’ do you disagree with her points and stand in unison with the strikers?  And when someone’s feeling down, will being greeting on Facebook by a dozen dislikes to her post be beneficial?

It may be that Zuckerberg and his algorithm wizards need to create a whole set of emoticons to navigate the easily confusing social media landscape. Or, we could revert to old-fashioned tactics such as picking up the phone and talking to each other.

Halima Khatun

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