Could Facebook's 'dislike' button actually be a 'hug'?
Mark Zuckerberg has finally confirmed that Facebook is working on something akin to a "dislike" button that will allow its users to acknowledge users' posts with just a click, but without appearing to approve of said post.
When asked at a Q&A session about whether the social network might follow up 2010's "like" button with a dislike, Zuckerberg confirmed that the company was "working on it".
However, he also suggested the button, when it is released, might not be called "dislike".
"We didn't want to just build a dislike button because we don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts. That doesn't seem like the kind of community we want to create," he said.
"People aren't looking for the ability to downvote people's posts, what they really want is to be able to express empathy... We have an idea that we think we'll be ready to test soon and depending on how that does we'll be ready to roll it out more broadly."
The purported button could have several alternatives to "dislike" that allow users to empathise with a status or photo but without showing disapproval.
However, one recurring request is for a "hug" or "hugs" button. This could be more appropriate for many of the statuses on Facebook that users might want to empathise with but not "like".
Two of the scenarios that Zuckerberg mentioned when talking about the new button were the refugee crisis and the death of a relative. "It may not feel comfortable to like that post but your friends and people want to express that they understand and that they relate to you so I do think it's important to give people more options than 'like'," he said.
He said Facebook has "an idea that we're ready to test soon... hopefully we'll have something that meets the need of our community".
The virtual hug has been a staple of the internet since the early chat room days, and has been around long before Facebook.
And in fact, Zuckerberg has said in the past that "hug" could be an option. In a previous Q&A session on Facebook, he said that the "hug" button was "one of the options we've discussed".