Facebook's headquarter's with a photoshopped 'dislike' sign. / Reuters/James Vincent

“If you want to dislike something, you should probably write a comment"

If the Facebook ‘like’ is a cultural icon then the ‘dislike’ button is pure internet myth. Thousands have petitioned for it, millions have felt an unconscious itch for it and yet Facebook are as likely to introduce one as they are a ‘middle finger’ button.

The reason for this according to man who invented the ‘like’ is that giving users the power to let friends know exactly what they thought of their link, photo, status or comment would result in what he rather delicately terms “unfortunate consequences”.

Speaking to Tech Radar, former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor said that need for a ‘dislike’ button was actually debated during the creation of the ‘like’ but that the potentially negative fall-out was deemed too great.

"The reason we launched the [‘like’ button] in the first place was that there were a lot of times that people wanted to acknowledge something someone did, but didn't have anything to say,” says Taylor. “And a lot of comments were one word like 'cool' or 'wow' so the like button let people did that with a single click. It wasn't really just a sentiment of 'like'."

However, he explains, a ‘dislike’ button would never work in the same way and would only encourage bad vibes (writing something hateful is harder than clicking a button and often the act of writing clears up the more spiteful feelings anyway).

“I have the feeling that if there were to be a 'dislike' button is that you would end up with these really negative social aspects to it,” Taylor explains. “If you want to dislike something, you should probably write a comment, because there's probably a word for what you want to say. I'm not saying the 'like' button isn't flawed would it be even more complex with a negative sentiment like 'dislike'.” So, it seems that for all the coding and technical wizardry that made Facebook into the dominant force it is today, when it comes to morality in social situations the expertise involved sounds a lot like something you’d hear from your parents: “If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.”

Comments