Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook may add a way to “dislike” posts on the social network.
Speaking at a Q&A session in California, Mark Zuckerberg said it was one of the most requested features the social network receives from its users.
The social network’s co-founder said the site would need to find a way to make sure it did not become a way to demean people’s posts.
According to Facebook’s own figures, 4.5 billion “likes” are generated every day.
“One of things we’ve thought about for quite a while is what’s the right way to make it so that people can easily express a broader range of emotions,” Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Facebook’s headquarters.
“A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives. Often people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing <<Like>> because <<Like>> isn’t the appropriate sentiment.
“Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, <<That thing isn’t good.>> That’s not something that we think is good for the world.
“The thing that I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express.”
Facebook’s “Like” button has been criticized as being a method by which the social network collects data on its users’ browsing habits.
The system has also come under fire due to a high volume of “fake Likes” – when the popularity of a brand or piece of content is inflated artificially.
Facebook has moved to combat the trade of so-called “Like farming” – businesses that, for a price, will provide a huge number of likes quickly. This will be via automated robots, or by a network of humans paid a tiny sum for each click.
Facebook has initiated legal action against companies offering “fake Likes” or other bogus business practices on the social network.
Facebook has developed a “Sympathize” button as an alternative to the “Like” button for use in certain situations.
If a user selected a negative emotion from Facebook’s list of feelings in a status update then the “Like” button would change to “Sympathize”.
A Facebook engineer said at a company event that the button had been created as part of an internal project.
But he later went on to say there were no plans to launch it at the moment.
Facebook has developed a “Sympathize” button as an alternative to the “Like” button for use in certain situations
Facebook were holding a “compassion research day” where members of the public and researchers are invited along to “improve [Facebook’s] understanding of the driving forces and benefits of compassion”.
In a Q&A session an audience member asked if Facebook had thought about changing the “Like” button when it felt inappropriate in relation to what a user had posted, for example when someone had written that their parents had died.
Dan Muriello, a software engineer at Facebook, said another engineer had worked on a hackathon project “a while back” to change the “Like” button to “Sympathize”.
It would not work for every post he said but if you tag a status with certain emotions from a fixed list then the “Like” button would change.
“A lot of people were very excited. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet,” he said.
Facebook hackathons are events where the company’s engineers get together and brainstorm new ideas, like Facebook Chat and the “friend suggester” facility.
Facebook is facing legal action from Rembrandt Social Media over its use of the “Like” button and other features of the social network.
Facebook is being sued by a patent-holding company acting on behalf of a dead Dutch programmer called Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer.
Rembrandt Social Media said Facebook’s success was based, in part, on using two of Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer’s patents without permission.
Facebook said it had no comment to make on the lawsuit or its claims.
A lawsuit has been filed in a federal court in Virginia by Rembrandt Social Media.
“We believe Rembrandt’s patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence,” said lawyer Tom Melsheimer from legal firm Fish and Richardson, which represents the patent holder.
Rembrandt now owns patents for technologies Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer used to build a fledgling social network, called Surfbook, before his death in 2004.
Facebook is facing legal action from Rembrandt Social Media over its use of the “Like” button and other features of the social network
Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer was granted the patents in 1998, five years before Facebook first appeared.
Surfbook was a social diary that let people share information with friends and family and approve some data using a “like” button, according to legal papers filed by Fish and Richardson.
The papers also say Facebook is aware of the patents as it has cited them in its own applications to patent some social networking technologies.
Also cited in the same legal claim was another social media company called Add This.