Currently, if you do not like or comment on something, you can get away with 'not having seen the post', ignoring the new cat photos and news about your 'friends' lives you might not be interested in. However, with the advent of the 'dislike' button, I imagine people will expect more interaction! There's no hiding on Facebook...
What's next? A 'no opinion' button? Would posts without a thumbs up or down mean the possibly cold/unfriendly/disloyal/unsociable/uncaring user had no thoughts or feelings on the matter? This could damage relationships with people who take Facebook too seriously... but then maybe you're not friends with anyone like that!
My primary concern about the introduction of a possible 'dislike' button is the increase of negativity it will inevitably bring. There's too much negative feeling on Facebook - bad day news dominates - and the world and Facebook's 1.49 billion users don't need more. Luckily, Zuckerberg and his colleagues agree.
No doubt Facebook is introducing the 'dislike' button for more than just public demand. The 'like' button has a feature since 2007, but it's become something the clever Facebook boffins use to tailor the adverts which appear on your feed. It also uses what you say you like to fill your news feed with more of what you like in terms of news, features articles, games and friend news.
Did you see what happened when Matthew Honan liked everything which appeared on his feed for 24 hours in an interesting experiment? The link is worth checking out - read to the end for the result. What you like on Facebook says a lot about you; it can reveal your work networks, the music you listen to, the high street shops you frequent... The list of trivial stuff goes on, but what is more concerning and revealing, is whether you advertise the fact you support extreme political groups on social media. Counter to that, your links to illness or charity work can be linked to your profile, should you choose to reveal it. The 'like' clickable is a huge marketing tool, and the future 'dislike' button, in whatever form it takes, will have the same function. It's all about the money and the value of Facebook. 'Dislikes' will only make it more accurate to judge what the user may like to see advertised.
The 'like' button can mean so many things: I LIKE the fact you shared this latest news story about the Syrian refugee crisis - the world needs to be aware. I LIKE that refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, desperate, being smuggled from their countries with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I definitely think twice before liking something nowadays, as my feed is more and more dominated by news articles.
Professor Andrea Forte, an expert in social and participatory media at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said users will not suddenly turn on each other's posts. "I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss."
Maybe an 'empathy' button would be more appropriate? I'll be interested to see what this button will look like...
Hands joining together? A hug might work?
Personally, I think Facebook should stay away from introducing a 'dislike' button. One click, a knee jerk reaction. Honest, but sometimes it can do more harm than good. Facebook could turn into a place no one wants to be because they are judged and made to feel bad, where the online world is full of body image expectations, cyber bullying and mental well-being issues.
Whatever Facebook decides will represent the 'dislike' action, I hope it's not a simple 'thumbs down'. I don'nee'no'negativity! Empathy, yes, and I think the world would agree.
**UPDATE** 21/10/15 http://www.wired.com/2015/10/facebook-reactions-design/_