You know how positive Facebook is? How positive and non-awful and pleasant and unterrible it is? How going on it doesn’t result in you (a) being reminded of your uncle’s not-as-casual-as-it-used-to-be racism; (b) getting bombarded with updates from people you worked with for a week in 2012 that mean absolutely nothing to you; and (c) reminding yourself to have that chat with your brother-in-law about how, if he wants to do five updates in half an hour about what’s happening on Britain’s Got Talent he should look into this thing called ‘Twitter’.
It’s super nice, Facebook, all positivity and unicorns and rainbows and love and hardly any pessimism and nastiness. OH WAIT HANG ON NO, EVERYONE ON IT IS AWFUL, AND AWFUL UNDER THEIR REAL NAMES WHICH IS SOMEHOW WORSE THAN THE COWARDLY AWFULNESS OF ANONYMITY BECAUSE THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY’RE BEING AWFUL.
They’re toying with a move that might sound like it would increase the negativity of the place, but if you really think about it, should help: a downvote/dislike button.
They seem to have tried it out for a few hours yesterday for a small number of users, who were offered the option ‘Downvote’ below comments (and not original posts, which is interesting) along with the usual options of liking, replying and doing those silly face-reaction things.
Facebook’s introduction of those reactions was widely reported as them bringing in a Dislike option, so this could end up being slightly different, but it seems like comments are going to work in a Reddit-like upvote/downvote way. Could work. It was also just a brief trial of a small amount of people, so it might not end up happening at all - Facebook experiment with new features all the time, before picking whichever one is completely awful and going with that.
A spokesperson for Facebook says:
“We are not testing a dislike button. 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.”
Downvote and dislike are basically the same thing, aren’t they? If Facebook had posted that statement as a comment we’d have clicked on whatever the ‘this is bad’ button was.
WHY DOWNVOTING MIGHT NOT BE AWFUL: There are lots of people on Facebook who feel the need to pipe up on everything they disagree with, specifically seeking things out that they were never going to like just in order to be really dickish in the comments. Maybe if there’s a downvote button they can just do that and spare the world their misspelled apoplectic nonsense.
WHY IT MIGHT IN FACT BE AWFUL: It seems like something that could totally be abused, and used to silence people, and generally be a bastard with.
Also, neither of them solve one of Facebook’s biggest problems, which is what to do when someone posts “RIP Gran”. Liking it is bad due to the ambiguity (are you showing support or are you glad she’s dead?), disliking it would also be bad (are you unhappy an old lady has died, or pissed off that this depressing story is crowding your newsfeed?), and downvoting it is like shouting “OH SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR GRAN, IAN”.