Facebook is not testing a “dislike” button. Instead, it’s testing a button that lets people express their dislike for comments.
That’s the official line from Facebook after the company was spotted testing the new feature on some people’s accounts on Thursday. The tests were reported by the Daily Beast.
So how does this not-a-dislike button work? Apparently, it lets people “downvote” comments on public posts, much as they can collaboratively push comments down the list on a Reddit thread.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanion certainly noticed the similarity.
“We are not testing a dislike button. We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the U.S. only,” Facebook told the publication.
Facebook has long faced an issue over how best to let people express less-than-positive feelings about people’s posts and comments.
A couple years ago, it said it was working on a “dislike” button that didn’t encourage negativity. This eventually manifested in the form of reaction buttons that let people express sadness and anger—but not dislike. Instead, the reactions are all intended to show sympathy with a post or comment.
The ability for people to downvote comments may make it easier for people and communities on Facebook to police trolling and hate speech. On the other hand, it could also be used as a trolling tool, if people organize the mass downranking of a particular comment for malicious purposes.
It really all depends on the implementation. And that’s what testing is for.