Is Zuckerberg finally giving the thumbs up to the thumbs down button?
If you're dying for a 'dislike' option on Facebook, the founder of the social media giant says the little blue 'like' icon will soon have a companion, writes Katie Wright
What would you most like to "dislike" on Facebook? The political opinions of your friends (or enemies)? A surfeit of selfies? Passive-aggressive status updates?
If you've been rubbing your hands with glee at headlines announcing that a symbol to denote disapproval is on the way, you might want to dial down your excitement.
"People have asked about the dislike button for many years, probably hundreds of people have asked about this," Mark Zuckerberg told the audience during a Q&A session at Facebook HQ in California recently. "Today is the day I actually get to say we're working on it and very close to shipping a test of it," the CEO added, before clarifying that it's not as simple as flipping the "like" icon upside down.
"We didn't want to just build a dislike button," Zuckerberg explained. "People aren't looking for an ability to down vote people's posts; what they really want is to be able to express empathy."
"Not every moment is a good moment," he added, citing the recent refugee crisis, or the death of a family member, as instances where "it may not feel comfortable to like that post". Sharing sad news is something the 31-year-old has had experience of himself lately. Back in July, at the same time as announcing that he and wife, Priscilla Chan, were expecting their first child, Zuckerberg also revealed that the couple has suffered three miscarriages.
The revelation was met with many messages of support and more than 1.7 million likes, but this is just the sort of incident where a wordless "like" doesn't necessarily fit the bill.
It remains to be seen what the new symbol will be, but since we now know it won't be a straight-up dislike button, don't be tempted by unscrupulous ads promising just that.
In the wake of the Q&A session, a scam offering users the chance to download an inverted thumb has reappeared (it originally dates back to around 2010), which appears to be an attempt to gather personal information.
When the new empathy emblem does arrive, it will most likely function in the same way the like button does now - no download required.
In the meantime, if you want to express anything other than positive affirmation on your friend's Facebook activities, you'll have to use good old-fashioned words.