Are Facebook going to launch the ‘dislike’ button we all want to see?

We’ve all been there – when a friend or an acquaintance, or simply someone we met in a bar once or played in the playground with 18 years ago, posts an update where we want to offer some response but where the ‘like’ button clearly wouldn’t cut it. You know, when someone has been burgled, bereaved or lost their favourite nail varnish – like? That would obviously feel inappropriate; you may not know which words to use in the comment box and so you want something in between – a sympathetic dislike perhaps?

Well, such a tool may not be such a distant dream – Facebookers (the internal ones) are apparently trying out a ‘sympathise’ button. This will be in the form of a like but it will automatically become a sympathetic one when attached to a negative emotion. Presumably the one stating their bad news would have to drop down one of Facebook pre-written ‘feelings’ in order for the button to work.

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The project is the outcome of one of their ‘hackathons’ – Hackathons are an regular internal Facebook event where engineers come together to soundboard new ideas with each other. It was in this way that Facebook chat and friend suggestions were created.

Apparently the idea was well-received although there are no immediate plans to roll the button out the public, as Facebook engineer Dan Muriello attests:

“A lot of people were very excited. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet.”

Instead, for now it will simply be tried out as a project – by selected members of the public and also market researchers getting to try it out and to record their responses to it. If they do bring out this one I wonder what others may follow in its wake – this is boring icon, attention-seeking dislike, over-share icon perhaps?

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