Facebook is testing a “downvote” button with certain users, effectively creating the “dislike” button long predicted by memes and articles since inception of the Like button.
The test appeared for several users on Thursday in the comment section of posts within Facebook groups and on old Facebook memories content. Users shared screenshots with The Daily Beast.
A Facebook spokesperson denied that the company is “testing a dislike button” before giving information about why it is performing the test.
“We are not testing a dislike button. We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the U.S. only.”
The feature appears to give users the ability to downrank certain comments. This is the first time Facebook has tested anything similar to a “dislike” button and it could theoretically allow for content that’s offensive or relevant to be pushed to the bottom of a comment feed.
Since the dawn of the Facebook Like button, users have been begging for a “dislike” button.
In 2016, citing Facebook executives, Bloomberg said a dislike button “had been rejected on the grounds that it would sow too much negativity” to the platform.
“Y’all there’s a downvote option on comments on Facebook. I’m about to knock down all the negativity across the internet with this magnificent tool,” one user tweeted.
The system of “upvoting” content with a Like and now downvoting, is very Reddit-esque, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Reddit founder and CEO Alexis Ohanian.
“Sincerest form of flattery! Wish I’d trademarked it and ‘upvote’ when came up with it,” he tweeted on Thursday.
It’s unclear how widely the dislike button is being tested. Facebook regularly tests features with small subsets of users that never end up rolling out to the broader public. Most users currently are only able to either Like or Reply to comments in a thread.
The downvote option could have radical implications on what types of discussions and comments flourish on the platform. While it could theoretically be used to de-rank inflammatory or problematic comments, it could also easily be used as a tool for abuse.
Facebook has attempted to compete with Reddit directly before through its Groups product.
Like subreddits, many Facebook groups are interest based and feature robust comment threads and discussion. In a summit held last June in Chicago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his plans for Facebook groups saying that the product was a top priority for the company.
In 2016, Facebook revamped the Like button offering a set of “reactions” that users could select to better express how they feel about content.
“We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the feature. “That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.”