Facebook's Like button has gone from a quirky site feature to a major cultural phenomenon. If you say you "liked" something on Facebook, everyone knows that you mean. Part of the reason it's so popular is that it sends a positive message.
Of course, it isn't always appropriate. When someone posts a story of personal tragedy, or a negative news story, you don't really want to "like" that. That's why for many years Facebook users have been asking for a "Dislike" button. It's even become something of a joke; but soon it might be a reality.
At a recent Q&A, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is working on a "Dislike" button, and it will be in testing soon. However, he did go on to say that it won't actually be labeled "Dislike."
He has a point. A "Dislike" button would give too much power to negative people, and turn each post into an emotional gamble. After all, who wants to post about a terrific day at work and have a bunch of people dislike it because they had a bad day? So, what is Facebook going to do instead?
Facebook rightly figured out that when people want to "dislike" something they aren't actually disliking the post, the subject matter or the person posting. Instead, users want a way to acknowledge that they've read the post, and "express empathy" as Zuckerberg phrased it.
Right now, many people use the "Like" button on posts that aren't really likable just to acknowledge that they're reading. So, Facebook's goal is to create a more neutral button that lets people acknowledge a less-than-happy post without "liking" it.
Right now Facebook isn't revealing what its solution is. It could be something as simple as "Sorry," or it could let you choose from a few different options depending on the circumstances. And it could change depending on how the testing goes.
In a similar measure, Facebook has already rolled out an option to news sites for a "Recommend" button that can replace the "Like" button on tragic news stories. After all, when you share a tragedy, you don't really "like" it.
Watch the full statement from Mark Zuckerberg:
So, do you think this is a good idea? Have you ever "liked" a sad post or story because there was no other option? Do you think that if people want to respond to something sad they should leave a heartfelt comment instead? Let us know your thoughts below.