We've been liking family photos and status updates for 11 years now on Facebook, but soon we may have a new option for the sadder moments in life. The company is building a dislike button.
During a town hall question and answer meeting Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the dislike button will soon be in testing, despite denying for years that such a button was in the works.
"People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years, and probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it," he said in a livestream.
There have long been rumours of such a button somewhere in production. The Huffington Post reported in 2013 that Facebook had experimented with a "sympathize" button, for when friends share sad or distressing moments in their lives and a like button doesn't feel suitable.
Zuckerberg has mentioned in the past that he's hesitant to add a dislike button because it promotes negativity.
"Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, 'that thing isn't good.' And that's not something that we think is good for the world," he said in December 2014 in another town hall session, when rumours had once again spiked that the company was working on a dislike button.
He denied the company would ever build that kind of functionality, and the Zuckerberg of 2015 doesn't entirely refute that premise.
"We don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts" he said at Tuesday's meeting, referencing the method the massive web forum Reddit uses to determine the relative worth of any piece of information.
"What they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment," he added.
That comment didn't set the web at ease however, as many began to worry about the potential abuses of that kind of functionality.
@MaggieFBCNews I've always wanted a dislike button, but I can imagine it being used as a bullying tool. Bad idea.— @mark_up
Mark Zuckerberg is really thinking about adding a 'dislike' button to #Facebook. Another dumb & potentially destructive change to this site.— @RichTPar
Facebook is finally creating a dislike button so get ready for no one to like anything you do ever again ever— @_DrWhom
Facebook making a "Dislike" button means I'm never posting to Facebook again because everyone will dislike my posts and I'll just get sad— @_JustinLeger
Others like the idea, as they see the development as one that could add nuance to online conversation.
I hope it is not a hoax, but the Dislike button seems like a great idea with some consequences. https://t.co/H1GLuNJKKe— @Robfactory
But not all of the positive remarks are as thoughtful.
Lol yes I can't wait for the dislike button on fb. I'm bout to dislike everything— @juicekan
Facebook adding a "dislike" button means I won't ever have to passive aggressively like anything ever again: can just aggressively dislike👍🏼— @brittanycdixon
The new button has been under development for a while now and Zuckerberg said he hopes to release it soon.