Why Facebook Has No “Dislike Button”

Dislike Button Stop SignYears ago Facebook came out with the concept of a “like”. Originally it was a way to acknowledge someone’s status without the trouble of posting a comment. Later Facebook adapted it for concepts, companies and pages. Symbolized by a simple blue “thumbs up” icon, the “like” soon became an integral part of the social network, as well as an integral part of marketing and pop culture. At the same time a new tradition started: people asking and complaining about why there was no “dislike” button. Even after years of user requests and complaints, Facebook has come no closer to implementing such a feature. Chances are they never will. Here’s why.

Likes are for marketers

Facebook makes its money from advertisers and marketers. Corporations are the customers, not individuals. Companies use Facebook because it allows then to build a large, enthusiastic audience that they can directly market to. It also allows companies to show off their bandwagon support: “Look at how many people like our page. Our product must be good.”

Adding a “dislike” button would undermine all of this. Imagine what would happen if Walmart’s Facebook page got more dislikes than likes? (And you know it would.) Walmart would be a lot less likely to give Facebook money or participate in online promotions if they knew there was a good chance of negative feedback. And imagine how this would reflect on politics. In a two-party system like we have in the US, people vote against one candidate as much as for the other. If politicians’ Facebook pages had “dislike” buttons, just about every living politician would be in the red.

The “Dislike Button” on personal statuses

Even if Facebook doesn’t want to add dislike buttons to corporate web pages, they could at least add them to personal statuses. This would be helpful with etiquette. For example, if someone posts that their dog died, it seems rude to “like” their status. A dislike button would help with this, but again, it’s not going to happen. Once again, it comes down to advertisers. Walmart doesn’t want people to “dislike” their postings. Neither does anyone else for that matter. And while many websites have used some sort of dislike or disapproval system (like Reddit), this system would not mesh with Facebook. Facebook has positioned itself as a way to connect with friends and brands you love. Adding a dislike button would undermine the whole system.

Do you think that Facebook will ever add a “dislike” button? Why or why not? Let me know in the comment section.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at http://steve-lovelace.com.

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2 Responses

  1. June 4, 2013
  2. July 31, 2014

    […] Facebook is at it again, violating users’ privacy in new and bizarre ways. This time it’s a psychological experiment, performed on some. 700,000 users, to see if positive statuses can invoke negative feelings and vice versa. (The experiment was performed in early 2012, but it’s existence was only recently revealed to the public.) Facebook has rightfully received a lot of condemnation for so harshly manipulating its users emotions, but I want to look at it from another point of view: the censorship of the News Feed. […]

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