In the near future, it’s just possible that you’ll be able to not just ‘Like’ things on Facebook – you’ll also be able to express a whole gamut of emotions from complete indifference to active hatred, along with everything else in between.
Well maybe. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg has just announced that following pressure from users the social networking site was looking at providing users with a broader way of expressing how they are feeling about something. It makes sense – as well as acknowledging that its users are not just cloth-brained Pollyannas – at the moment pressing the ‘Like’ button next to a piece of content that someone has shared but is in some way melancholic is an illogical and counter-intuitive thing to do. It may even appear cruel given the context of the post. But to many people it’s better than callously ignoring this heartfelt moment completely – any expression of solidarity is better than none at all.
While the details of what Zuckerberg has got planned are still sketchy, any changes are likely to have to get the approval of advertisers first. If you’re looking for an outright ‘hate’ button to hits with psychopathic regularity then the chances are that you’re going to be disappointed (and you probably haven’t got that many friends on the site in the first place). By any definition Facebook ‘Likes’ are a blunt, crude measure of success, the garnering of which has been criticised as being a short-term measure of relative popularity for brands (and one that unscrupulous parties can artificially manipulate) rather than a long-term business or brand-building objective. But even in an age where brands have got used – forced even – to engage with customers online, Facebook is unlikely to want to alienate its advertisers by appearing to promote dissent.