With just about everything you get to see view in Facebook, there’s usually a button or a link displayed as “like” associated with the topic. If you click that button, the person who posted that link gets a little note on his Facebook page that you liked what ever it was that they had put up.
When I first saw the ‘like” button, the first thing I thought of was my TiVo remote with it’s “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” buttons. You can thumb up or down a program while you are watching it. This information gets stored on the TiVo and it uses that information to pick shows it think you might like to watch. A completely optional feature, but very cool none the less.
With the TiVo ‘Thumbs Down” feature in mind, I wondered why there wasn’t a “dislike” button. If you believe in Sturgeon’s Law (ninety percent of everything is crap), then there is going to be stuff on Facebook that you won’t like. Since they let you express your approval with the “like' button, why not be able to express your disapproval?
I’m not the only one who has wondered about that. There’s at least one poll on Facebook that asks “Should Facebook get a dislike button?” if you have a Facebook account, you can hit that poll from this link. I saw it because a friend of mine had already voted “Yes”.
Voting “Yes” was my initial inclination, but I decided to think about it for minute. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that it would be a bad idea to have a “dislike” button. It would be a tool for expressing a negative opinion and that’s not what Facebook is about.
A large part of the early appeal of Facebook was that it was closed community. If you want to see someone’s Facebook page, you had to be a member of Facebook and probably need to be a “friend” as Facebook defines it) of that person before being able to view that page.
Since you have to have a Facebook account to access Facebook user pages, there are no anonymous users on Facebook. If the Facebook administrators catch you using a fake name (like the way a certain B-List actress did last winter), they will disable the account. What ever you do on Facebook, it will always be associated with your account.
If you could click a “dislike” button for something that a friend had posted, your friend is going to know you didn’t like what they had posted. No one is going to want to see a little thumbs down image next to the picture of their new kitten/cat/tattoo/etc. There will be a percentage of users who will be offended when their post is disliked. That can lead to bad feelings between the two people and add a negative tone to the Facebook experience.
If you feel strongly against something, you can still leave a comment and express your opinion. That can actually be helpful. If you wanted to press the “dislike” button on something because you found it inaccurate or offensive, you can actually write why you feel that way. Constructive criticism means a lot more than a little image of thumb pointing down. Some people will still be offended by critical posts, but now you will have a starting point to discuss it. So I’m not taking that poll and I’m hoping that Facebook doesn’t implement a “dislike” feature.