Facebook‘s 1.5bn users will soon be able to vent their anger in a new way after the social network revealed it is working on a “dislike” button.
Founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the move at a public Q&A session at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
“People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” the 31-year-old billionaire said. “We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community.
“We’re working on it and are very close to shipping a test of it. 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. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.”
“People aren’t looking for the ability to downvote people’s posts, what they really want is to be able to express empathy.
“Not every moment is a good moment and if you’re sharing something sad… then it may not feel comfortable to like that post, but your friends and people want to express that they understand and that they relate to you, so I think it’s important to give people more options than ‘like’ as a quick way to emote and share what they’re feeling on a post.
“We have an idea that we think we’ll be ready to test soon and depending on how that does we’ll be ready to roll it out more broadly.”
Facebook’s “like” button – which enables its 1.49bn monthly active users to approve a post by someone else – has become one of the website’s signature features.
According to Facebook’s own figures, 4.5bn “likes” are generated every day, with pop star Shakira the most “liked” person on the site, according to PageData.
A “dislike” button has long been rumoured, with Mr Zuckerberg telling a previous Q&A session in December that the company was considering installing such a feature.
“One of things we’ve thought about for quite a while is what’s the right way to make it so that people can easily express a broader range of emotions,” Mr Zuckerberg said at the time.
“A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives. Often people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing ‘like’ because ‘like’ isn’t the appropriate sentiment.
“Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, ‘That thing isn’t good.’ That’s not something that we think is good for the world.
“The thing that I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express.”
Zuckerberg said at the time that a “hug” button was one option the company is considering.
However, the “like” button has drawn criticism over the way Facebook uses it to collect data on its users. A row over “fake likes”, which artifically boost the appeal of a post, has also marred the feature.
In 2013 it was revealed that some companies were reportedly offering hundreds of likes at just over £10, with hackers going into people’s accounts and liking products to make a profit.
Following the Channel 4 News investigation, Facebook said it would take action to remove pages flagged up in connection with fake likes, and said they would advise anyone who has been offered the chance to boost their number of fans in return for money should “walk away – not least because it is against our rules.”
Facebook is expanding its features, such as video, as it seeks to solidify its position as the world’s most popular social network.
Last month it revealed that more than 1bn people used the site in a single day – the first time the comapny has hit the milestone.
Mr Zuckerberg, who founded the company in 2004 while studying at Harvard, said he felt “proud” that one-in-seven people on Earth logged on to the website during August 24.
To celebrate, he uploaded a video containing posts from users across the world to celebrate the achievement, tagged with the heading “feeling connected”.
When Facebook (then called ‘theFacebook’) launched on February 4, 2004…