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.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

5 thoughts on “Trolling the Internet With a ‘Dislike’ Button”

  1. Interesting article. How do you foresee Facebook combating these “dislike bots”? Obviously an account is required to leave a dislike, and automated accounts would be easy to detect, I’d imagine.

    Also, I believe you are misusing the word “troll”. A troll in this sense requires the intention of deception; it’s not simply someone who engages in negative behavior online. Or maybe you are just trolling us.

  2. While I think Facebook has it’s own set of online garbage problems, this isn’t really one of them & the author hasn’t done his homework. After some immediate uproar, Facebook made it clear that it won’t exactly be a “dislike button,” but a form of acknowledgement, so that you can respond to your friend having the flu or their dog passing away without having to “like” it.

  3. If Facebook does include a Dislike button for its users, enabling a balancing act in the like-dislike relationship that all brands and content published generate on the viewer, it would consider this an avant-garde idea. It would make the job of gauging the quality of content and reputation of individuals/corporations more empirical.

    It is easy to count likes, it is more important to count dislikes and the causes leading to them.

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