We will not talk about the value of free speech but we may have a conclusion to surprise you in your quest of more freedom. Innocently, I wanted to develop an immediate reaction to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of the development of a ‘dislike’ button. Hold on. A ‘dislike’ button’. They’re going to hear the users’ request and offer a button to express their disagreement. That’s not really the case and I think a lot of journalists have been carried away with the news. If we want to follow the exact words, we will understand something slightly different. ‘People have asked about the dislike button for many years,” he said, as quoted by Wired. “We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community’
I believe in a total transparency from the brands, in this case for a total freedom for the people to express themselves about what they think, would it be related directly or not to the brand, its products, its activities, its services. In the case of Facebook, we understand again the difficulty for big and inclusive brands (brands dedicating themselves to connect people and making easy their communication) to allow a clear right to express their negative reactions. Actually, this ‘possible button’ will give more certainly the opportunity to express fuzzy sentiments like surprise, laughter, or empathy.
But then, we come the hypocrisy about this announcement that seems to be more like a PR stunt than real news on the most powerful social network of the planet. We don’t really need a ‘dislike’ button. Or at least, we don’t really need a button that can express peculiar attitudes to the content proposed by others. Because the famous and iconic ‘like’ button has already taken on a more flexible meaning than simple approval. The semantics have proven that, sometimes, the ‘like’ button can underline disgust, tragedy, nonsense and critics… Nonetheless, it makes sense for Facebook to consider some alternative reactions, because understanding when users are expressing different things rather than a simple ‘I like’ will help the social media to sharp its algorithms. More nuanced responses means more data to mine and monetize.
And that’s a terrible thing about what may happen with the creation of this alternative. You will believe you finally got what you wanted, you finally got the freedom to be against or to enlarge your spectrum of emotions but, actually, the social network will know and frame you in a more accurate way. And you were talking about having more freedom… Well, you may dislike the ‘dislike’ button now.