Trolling the Internet With a ‘Dislike’ Button

As a public relations professional, I suppose I should be happy that Facebook is going to soon enable “dislikes” as much as “likes” — giving its account holders the capacity to rip on photos, posts, pages and other assets to which they wish to convey a negative sentiment quickly.

As a public relations professional, I suppose I should be happy that Facebook is going to soon enable “dislikes” as much as “likes” — giving its account holders the capacity to rip on photos, posts, pages and other assets to which they wish to convey a negative sentiment quickly. Such venting apparently is in demand, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported.

Helping brands keep likes more numerous than dislikes can require lots of public relations help. And where dislikes far outnumber likes, so the more. However, the best public relations may only help temporarily for any product or service that’s not up to par — you have to fix the product or service first.

To me, it’s concerning that the Facebook platform — a mostly “nice corner” of an otherwise diatribe-filled Internet — may go the way of sports, political and news site bulletin boards, where public comment sections always seemed to be polluted by bullies, trolls and hatemongers. It’s not as if trolls can’t already post “hater” messages now on Facebook. But don’t we have enough online garbage without Facebook further facilitating the frothy fray? Perhaps Facebook well knows that dislikes count the same as likes — so by enabling dislikes, they’ll be getting a whole bunch of engagement they’re otherwise missing out on.

Turn to marketing: By reducing any branded or non-branded digital post to a real-time popularity contest (likes v. dislikes), how do we inform the consumer marketplace in a constructive way? We probably don’t. I foresee “dislike bots” driving up the thumbs-down tally by anyone with a bone to pick. At least with the solo presence of the “like” button, Facebook users lend someone or some brand a tiny bit of affection. I believe the world could use of little more positive encouragement — we have enough of the other kind.

Thankfully, Facebook is not abandoning the like button. I just hope the trolls don’t get the upper hand, and do unnecessary damage.

Better yet, instead of sending me a simple like or dislike, choose from any number of emoticons. If feedback needs to be easy and icon-driven, then I’d rather have a full set of offered emotions to choose from, then just a thumb pointed one way or another.