The fabled, long-request Facebook “Dislike” button may finally become reality, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a Q&A session on Tuesday. But instead of being a catch-all “This sucks” identifier used to brand clickbait and racist memes from Uncle Homer with a scarlet letter, the social network’s considering rolling out the Dislike button for a more nuanced use: Empathy.
Facebook wants to limit use of the Dislike button to situations where the standard “Like” interaction feels crass, such as posts about deaths or divorces. “What they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment,” Zuckerberg said, according to Time.
Zuckerberg says Facebook’s “working on [a Dislike button] and shipping it,” with plans to start testing its implementation in the future.
The story behind the story: Facebook and Zuckerberg have long resisted the idea of introducing a Dislike button to the social network, wary of giving users an avenue to attack other people via a negative interaction. (Think of Reddit’s “downvote brigades” that swoop in to submerge posts that contain ideas the brigade disagrees with.) The Dislike button Facebook is now considering sounds like a much more nuanced approach, designed to combat an actual problem with the network—but Facebook’s going to have to stick the landing or it could turn out ugly.
Perhaps it’ll turn up as an optional flag that allows you to manually change “Like” to “Dislike” for a post? Time will tell, though Zuckerberg didn’t reveal any sort of expected timeframe for the new feature to roll out.
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