Facebook Is Now Testing the Long-Awaited 'Downvote' Button

Facebook have confirmed they are testing a downvote feature within a small group of users in the US.

Facebook is reportedly testing a ‘downvote’ button amongst a small group of US-based users.

Facebook was careful not to call the new feature a ‘dislike’ button. The social media giant reportedly stated, “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 U.S. only.”

Rumors of a dislike button have been circulating since the inception of the like button in 2009. In 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted at a Townhall meeting saying: “I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years. Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it.” The feature was never released.

Reddit provides role model

Facebook's hesitance to give its users a broader range of negative responses may be due linked to the fierce voting that goes on at Reddit. Reddit uses an up and down voting system to rank pages. Competition can get fierce inside the site and administrators reportedly spend a lot of resources trying to stamp out harassment. The community site has had mixed results from studies where downvotes were hidden from other users. Many communities actually elect to turn off the downvoting feature to prevent mass-downvoting, known as brigading, on controversial content.

Facebook 'react' feature allows empathy 

In recent years Facebook has broadened its options to respond to public posts as well as messages inside the Messenger app. The most negative of these is the ‘angry face’ emoji, which like all emojis isn’t labeled as ‘negative’ and could be used to support a person's post about a bad experience. It is unclear what results from the study will motivate Facebook to roll out the feature on the site. It is also unclear if this downvote button will change the way that the content is viewed on the site. If a comment or post receives a high number of downvotes it could potentially reduce the number of people it reaches.

Effect on harassment unclear

It will be interesting to see if the Facebook downvote system has any effect on the ongoing online harassment debate. While Facebook is keen to promote itself as a pace of positivity and free discussion, it has a poor record of protecting the victims of online harassment.

Social Media

Facebook Denies Listening to Your Conversations to Target Ads

Comedian Marcia Belsky was banned from Facebook for 30 days after she commented ‘men are scum’ on her friend Nicole Silverberg’s photo album which detailed the abuse she had received online after publishing an article about the ways men can treat women better. According to Facebook, the comment broke community standards, however when posts were made about women and people of color the same community standards did not seem to apply. Facebook later apologized for the ban and reinstated her account access. The possible new downvote feature could be a help or hindrance to the ongoing struggle to stop online harassment.

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