October 7, 2015
The Facebook dislike button could spell doom?
Communication on Facebook has always had its pitfalls. Do you “like” a post if you agree with the sentiment but hate the situation described? What about a tragedy if you want to offer support and the person posting asks for support? Should you take the time to write out a message in the hopes of avoiding an uncomfortable situation … but you don’t really know what to say … or you feel the original post said it best?
Ah, life in the mobile communication era. We talk as little as possible but try to say as much as we can with each keystroke. Now, Facebook revealed it is working on something people have been asking about for years … a DISLIKE button. Some reacted to the news with a shout: “FINALLY!” Others just sighed, and not a few people suggested this might be the end of any lingering civility online.
Then Mark Zuckerberg weighed in. According to Facebook’s CEO, the new tool will be a way to “express empathy” on status updates. Possibly a dislike button, but probably something a bit more complex. Zuckerberg admitted finding the right approach has been complicated. He said, surprisingly so. “We didn’t want to just build a ‘Dislike’ button because we don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts.”
So… what then?
Well, so far the CEO is not saying much, but it’s a cinch it’s probably a step in some direction. Though if it’s the right one only time will tell. Some social media users want no more “like” style buttons. They want people to be forced to communicate in something other than the digital equivalent of grunting or smiling. Others look forward to the opportunity to say even more while tapping even less.
There are those who believe additional “empathy” buttons simply gives trolls more ammunition. But when did a troll ever content themselves with clicking a button or an emoticon when a rambling, long-winded diatribe about ten unrelated topics would do?
From a public relations perspective, more opportunities should create more engagement, the key factor in the success of social media platforms. How that engagement evolves will, as always, be up to the users.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."View more posts from this author