Facebook has confirmed that it is testing a downvote button that will allow users to flag and hide comments they find misleading, offensive or inappropriate.
The company denied that the button was a “dislike” button.
In a statement, Facebook said: “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.”
— Michael Greer (@MGreer_PR) February 12, 2018
When the button is selected, the flagged content is hidden, and users can report comments as “offensive,” “misleading” or “off topic.” The comments are reportedly hidden from the “offensive” user.
The button will currently only appear on public posts on pages, not on individual user accounts, according to TechCrunch.
TechCrunch reported that the button was a short-term test running for on an estimated 5 percent of Android users. Downvoting would also not affect the ranking of a comment, post, or page.
Instead, the button is designed as a “way to give feedback to Facebook, not the commenter, and there will be no publicly visible count of how many downvotes a comment gets.”
For years, Facebook resisted a “thumbs down” button, claiming it did not want to turn Facebook into a community where users up vote or downvote posts, like Reddit. However, a downvote button is about as close as the company can get to a “dislike” button, and it’s almost certain to be abused — whether for politics or some other reason.
Reddit co-founder Alexi Ohanian said Facebook’s button was the “sincerest form of flattery.”
Sincerest form of flattery! Wish I'd trademarked it and “upvote” when came up with it. 😂😂 https://t.co/wJMxILChCV
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) February 8, 2018
And whatever Facebook says now, what it eventully will or will not do with information that has been downvoted is anyone’s guess.
As TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine pointed out, the button could could eventually evolve into a way for Facebook to bury offensive comments, or the users who post them.
It is astounding that leadership at Facebook honestly believes a downvote button will create a “lightweight” way for users to disapprove of content when we all know that by allowing users to downvote, Facebook will simply be creating more division, reinforcing echo chambers on both sides of the political spectrum.
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