That Facebook dislike button you’ve been asking for has finally arrived, but not in the way you’d think. Instead of a thumbs-down Like to indicate you don’t like the post, there’s a downvote button to hide it from view.
A lot of folks who saw the downvote option went ahead and assumed that Facebook was finally launching a dislike button, sparking a lot of discussion on social media sites like Twitter. However, the company has dismissed this assumption.
A Facebook spokesperson said that it’s not testing a dislike button. Instead, it’s exploring a feature for users to give it feedback about comments on public page posts. It’s currently only visible to a small group of people in the US.
Here’s how the downvote button works. It appears next to the regular Like and Reply buttons underneath a comment. Tapping on it will hide the text from the person who downvoted it. Facebook will then ask them whether it was offensive, misleading, or off topic. They can even undo the action.
In its current avatar, downvoting comes across as a feedback form for Facebook to determine what kind of comments to push to the bottom or discard. While it could be good for the community to get rid of hateful comments, it could also result in excessive censorship.
It’s a tricky balance, one Facebook will have to figure out if wants to go public with this. The company said that it wants to encourage meaningful interactions earlier this year, and this might be one of the first of many steps towards that goal.