Facebook says it is not testing a “dislike” button, but rather a “downvote” option, which would let users flag abusive or inappropriate comments.
News of the beta test broke on Twitter when screenshots of the feature began to circulate. Facebook later confirmed the test to media outlets.
Tapping the downvote button hides the comment for the user who taps it, then asks them to say whether the comment was “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic.” Downvote view counts not being visible to users. “We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson writes. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the US only.”
Many speculate that if it is rolled out as a permanent feature, it will start small before being offered globally.
The Verge continued:
It seems likely that the downvote button, if it does ever launch, will start off restricted to public posts as a way to help users self-moderate sprawling threaded comment sections under news articles, as an example.
The data could be valuable to Facebook, which is taking on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge to create more meaningful experiences for users.
When tapped, the downvote button hides a comment, and gives users additional reporting options like “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”. Those could help Facebook figure out if the comment is objectionable, a form of “fake news”, or just irrelevant. Facebook already has a “Hide” button for comments, but it’s usually hidden behind the drop-down arrow on comments rather than immediately clickable.
The data could also be useful to brand managers looking to create communities on the platform and expand their organic reach.
Is Facebook bowing to user pressure?
The button is the closest Facebook has come to offering a “dislike” button, something users have been requesting for years.
A dislike button has long been the most requested Facebook feature, but Facebook has never given in.
[…] Instead, Facebook built the Reactions options that let you respond to posts and comments with love, wow, haha, sad or angry emoji. Facebook also built reactions into Messenger with the option to give messages a thumbs-up or thumbs-down so you could show agreement or disagreement.
But the new downvote button is the closest Facebook has come to actually giving people a dislike button.
Brand managers should also watch for how this feature may affect the ranking of comments.
The downvote option could have radical implications on what types of discussions and comments flourish on the platform. While it could theoretically be used to de-rank inflammatory or problematic comments, it could also easily be used as a tool for abuse.
At least one former employee expressed sadness that Facebook had caved to popular demand:
I know Facebook tests things all the time but when I worked there we’d get asked about a dislike button all the time & our answer was always a resounding, unwavering no. If true, I’m surprised & disappointed https://t.co/BUa4ZpmgxC via @thedailybeast
— Andrew Noyes (@anoyes) February 8, 2018
Some Twitter users see the move as an attempt to copy Reddit, which invented the “downvote/upvote” system for comments.
Very Reddit tbh!
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) February 8, 2018
A Reddit co-founder said he was flattered that Facebook might copy him:
Sincerest form of flattery! Wish I’d trademarked it and “upvote” when came up with it. ðð https://t.co/wJMxILChCV
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. (@alexisohanian) February 8, 2018
No—but actually, yes.
The Daily Beast poked fun at Facebook over its grudging disclosure about the feature:
UPDATE: A Facebook spokesperson denied that the company is “testing a dislike button” before giving information about why it is testing a dislike button https://t.co/viqgkS4r3Z
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) February 9, 2018
Take note PR pros: If your response to a reporter doesn’t make logical sense or seems to contradict itself, everyone will know about it before long:
Facebook sent us a comment saying they are not running a test for a dislike button, then gave us a ton of information about the dislike button it is testing.
In the next sentence.https://t.co/UHGwvus3XH
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) February 9, 2018
What do you think, PR Daily readers? Will a “downvote” button change your Facebook strategy?