We have all experienced seeing a Facebook post that has touched or stirred something in us but one that we can't "like" – maybe it's a friend's comment about missing his recently departed mom or the news that a young boy was arrested for making and bringing a clock to school. Whatever it is, clicking "like" is not an option as it feels like you're condoning the action or celebrating a friend's misery.
This is why people have been clamoring for a Facebook "dislike" button for years. And for years, Mark Zuckerberg has insisted that it won't be happening.
But now it seems the tide is changing as Facebook's CEO recently admitted during a Q&A session that the company was looking for other options to express feelings other than the "Like" button.
"I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years," Zuckerberg said. "Today is a special day because today I can say we're working on it and shipping it."
However, he didn't mention when this button would be revealed.
This was a 180-degree turn from the comments made by the 31-year-old last December, when he stated that people wanted a Facebook "Dislike" button so they can say "that thing isn't good." However, he explained that the company won't have a "Dislike" button because they "don't think that's socially very valuable, or great for the community."
But, despite his statements, it would appear that Facebook has actually been working on something similar to the idea. However, it probably won't be called a "Dislike" button.
Zuckerberg has previously explained the reasoning behind the company's dislike for a "Dislike" button. For one, they don't want to model it after Reddit's system of voting stories up or down.
The company had also been worried that a button like this might lead to negative reactions or to cyberbullying.
But people do want a way to express sympathy, and how to do that is what Zuckerberg and his team have been thinking about.
"If you're expressing something sad... it may not feel comfortable to 'like' that post," Zuckerberg said. "But your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand."
Unfortunately, "dislike" is such a simple word that using it is unlikely to "express empathy" and other complex emotions so Facebook would probably have to come up with another name for it.
There are those who think that a Facebook "Dislike" button might make the social media site a much darker place. However, it could actually help Facebook progress ever closer to its vision of one global community interacting and learning about the more important things that are happening in the world.
And while it's an altruistic vision, it could also translate to more dollars if Facebook users spend more time on the site.
[Image via techpp.com]