Social networking titan Facebook has begun testing a ‘downvote’ feature on the network, possibly addressing some users’ desire to see an ‘dislike’ button introduced to the site.
The new button is currently being tested with a small group of users and only applies to the comments section. When it is clicked, it hides that comment. The social platform may intend for this button to be a way that users can flag any offensive comments to the site’s moderators, meaning that its functionality would not resemble a ‘dislike’ button at all.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether the author of the comment would be notified that their comment has been ‘downvoted’ in the way they are when someone likes or reacts to a comment. Images and screenshots from those who are part of the testing sample with the button on it suggest that the comment will remain on the site for others to see, apart from the person that clicked the downvote button.
A large proportion of Facebook’s two billion users have long been campaigning for the company to give them a ‘dislike’ button, but this is an area Facebook has refused to address. However, when the news broke of the downvote feature, it was quick to highlight that this is not an alternative to the iconic like button and users should not perceive it as one.
A spokesperson for the company has said that Facebook is exploring a new way for users to give the site feedback about comments left on posts from public pages. It was also highlighted that this was a test feature and was being trialled among a set of users in the US only.
In the past, when users have brought up the need for a ‘dislike’ button, the company has responded by saying that it doesn’t wish to introduce a straight-up option like this, as it could encourage the spread of negativity on the platform.
A way that it had tried to get around the subject was with reactions. These were introduced back in February 2016, with users able to choose between six different emotions to react to photos, posts and comments. This included ‘anger’, as well as ‘haha’, ‘love’ and ‘sad’.
The concept of downvoting is not new to social media by any means. Users of Reddit and Imgur will be familiar with the buttons as this feature also appears on these sites, with downvoting having an effect of ranking and visibility within Imgur.
The founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, who is the husband of professional tennis player Serena Williams, stated that Facebook’s test of the downvote was “sincerest form of flattery”.
Sincerest form of flattery! Wish I'd trademarked it and “upvote” when came up with it. 😂😂 https://t.co/wJMxILChCV
— AlexisOhanian.eth 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@alexisohanian) February 8, 2018
Should Facebook decide that its tests have been successful, the rest of the world could see this feature popping up on their news feeds in the future.