Facebook's Dislike Button Is Here, But It's Not What You Think

Moving beyond the "Like" and adding a range of emotions with "Reactions"

Screenshot of Facebook's Reactions feature

Screenshot of Facebook's Reactions feature

After years of Facebook users clamoring for a "dislike" button, the world's largest social network is finally heeding the call —sort of.Facebook

After years of Facebook users clamoring for a "Dislike" button, the world's largest social network is finally giving them what they want—sort of. Facebook has begun a very limited test of a new feature called "Reactions" that lets users of its mobile app in Spain and Ireland use emojis to express additional emotions beyond Facebook's iconic "Like" button (the thumbs-up). These include: "Love," "Haha," "Yay," "Wow," "Sad," and "Angry," and they can only be accessed on the mobile version of Facebook by "long-pressing" or hovering over the good old "Like" button. Facebook says the feature will eventually be expanded to all users, though no timeline has been given for when.

Facebook didn't just choose these new emotions randomly, of course. As Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox explains in a post introducing the new feature:

As you can see, it’s not a “dislike” button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly. We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun. Starting today Ireland and Spain can start loving, wow-ing, or expressing sympathy to posts on Facebook by hovering or long-pressing the Like button wherever they see it. We’ll use the feedback from this to improve the feature and hope to roll it out to everyone soon.

Cox also posted a video showing off the new feature, which you can see embedded at the bottom of this post.

The fact that Facebook's new "Reactions," don't include an overt "Dislike" button may be disappointing to those who clamored for that specific option, but the move does show an acknowledgment that the monolithic "Like" button is profoundly limiting when it comes to the actual emotions people want to share. Facebook posts about personal disappointments, annoyances, illnesses, tragedies, frustrations, or other challenges in life have never been a good fit for the "Like" button (not to mention your uncle's crazy political rants).

While this new feature does some to address that obvious fact, the lack of a "Dislike," or other disapproval mechanism, shows that Facebook doesn't want to provide tools that make it easier for users to berate one another, at least not any outside of the good old fashioned written comments (which, incidentally, have also supported emoji on Facebook for quite some time).

But, as the saying goes: haters gonna hate.