The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Yes, Facebook is finally working on a ‘dislike’ button. But it might not be what you expect.

After years of requests from its users, Facebook has finally confirmed it's working on a dislike button.

"People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years. Today is a special day, because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it," said Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during a live Q&A session Tuesday.

You've long been able to Like something on Facebook with the click of a button. But for some content, that mechanic doesn't always work so well, according to Zuckerberg.

"Not every moment is a good moment," he said. "If you share something that's sad, like a refugee crisis that touches you or a family member passes away — it may not be comfortable to like that post."

The answer to that problem might casually be referred to as a "dislike" button. But Zuckerberg consciously wanted to avoid creating a system of reddit-style upvotes and downvotes. And with good reason: Unlike reddit, Facebook's feed is the product of a sophisticated algorithm, which means it would need to be taught how to handle the new button. Would a torrent of dislikes serve to bury a post in your newsfeed? Or elevate it?

Facebook's answer seems to be "neither." What the service appears to prefer is something that allows you to express "empathy" with "more options." This isn't the first time Zuckerberg has considered the idea; in December, he revealed that he'd been weighing how to implement a dislike button that would be a "force for good."

Perhaps this could mean not a single button but rather a range of possible responses that offer alternatives to the like without being its direct opposite.