Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that a dislike button is being worked on, and Facebook will be testing it soon. He shared that people have consistently been asking about this capability for years: “We’ve finally heard you and we’re working on this and we will deliver something that meets the needs of the larger community.”
In his latest town hall Q&A session, held today at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the company’s chief executive said that his team has been hearing things and shared that it’s not a matter of downvoting people’s opinions and posts, but rather expressing empathy to moments.
“Not every moment is a good moment,” he said. “If you share something that’s sad like a refugee crisis that touches you or a family member passes away, it may not be comfortable to like that post … I do think it’s important to give people more options than liking it.”
Zuckerberg said that it’s a surprisingly complicated process, but that Facebook has an idea and they’ll be testing it out soon. If it works out well, they’ll roll it out more broadly. In a previous town hall session, Zuckerberg disclosed that Facebook was thinking about a dislike button. This time it appears that the concept has moved forward and is now closer to being implemented.
Facebook is obviously well aware that a lot of users like the idea of having a dislike button. And while there are many reasons almost no one at Facebook supports adding a dislike button, I’ve never heard any talk of its impact on advertisers and it seems all the speculation I’ve read about advertisers driving this decision is as far from the truth as I can imagine. The decision has always been about the negative impact this dynamic would have on the user experience and almost always considered in the context of Disliking posts, not disliking pages or advertisements. And while I guess advertisers/businesses/celebrities wouldn’t want their posts to be disliked, it wouldn’t be particularly novel, since commenting provides a very active channel for communicating negative feedback.
Other questions include whether Facebook would get involved in affordable housing. Zuckerberg says that in order to be a responsible member of the community, his company would have to be involved and said that it was “really important,” but didn’t provide any further details.
A few questions centered around Zuckerberg’s news that he’s going to be a father, which he recently announced in a post on the social network. He seemed extremely gratified at the support of the community. He got a bit emotional when asked about his hopes for his girl’s future, saying that he hoped for a world with no war and unnecessary pain, a world in which everyone is connected with just a tap, and more.
On artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg said that he’s more optimistic than other tech executives and thought leaders who have warned about the dangers. “We work on this on a day-to-day basis and we’re nowhere near” AI taking over the world, he remarked. The ability to eliminate car accidents and cure diseases and other benefits are things Zuckerberg touted as the benefits of AI.
Is Zuckerberg worried about Facebook’s future? A question from the audience cited the success and failures of companies like Orkut, Myspace, etc. and whether it worries Facebook’s CEO. Zuckerberg said that his company’s goal isn’t to exist forever, but to “change the world.” He’s not worried about the downfall of the social network, but rather whether the company is doing the right things to execute that mission. He doesn’t know what’s next, but doesn’t believe that something that you create needs to live forever.
Perhaps the biggest question of the event occurred near the end: What is Zuckerberg’s favorite emoji? He said that he’s a fan of stickers, particularly the cactus. He also gave a shout-out to the artist that created the sticker pack for his dog Beast: “He’s basically a mop.”
It’s worth noting that this is the first of two town halls that Zuckerberg will be holding. This Saturday, he’ll be joined by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the two are expected to discuss social and economic challenges facing the world’s third-largest economy and how Facebook can help with those issues.