16 Sep 2015

Facebook: what’s not to like?

It’s a thoroughly modern conundrum: your Facebook friend suffers a personal tragedy, you want to express sympathy, or outrage, or some other emotion. You hover over the “like” button…. but it just seems wrong.

Facebook has finally listened to its users and is “working on shipping a test” of a “dislike” button.

There’s one group of Facebook users who might not be giving the thumbs up to the idea: marketers.


For these modern Mad Men, Facebook is a treasure trove of potential customer data. They litter our news feed with their eye-catching photos, funny videos and carefully-honed catchlines, and all we can do is like them, or fume in silence. (You can reject individual adverts, but your disapproval isn’t shared publicly).

I’m sure some in the marketing world will argue that the ability for consumers to tell a company we actively dislike them is a “welcome insight into user sentiment”.

I’m equally sure that for the poor bods who actually run Facebook campaigns for big brands, the prospect of a client phoning several times a day to complain about how many people hate their expensive promo video will be as welcome as a sandwich full of body hair.

And it’s not just the public who’ll be using this new-found power: it’s brands’ competitors too. If you run Expensive Trainers Ltd, wouldn’t you tell your team to make sure Pricey Trainers Ltd gets as many dislikes as possible? Or maybe hire a company to do just that?

We’ve already exposed the black market in Facebook likes. How long until we see a similar market emerging for the potentially more damaging dislike button?

For a platform like Facebook, that is built largely on advertising money, a “dislike” button would be a brave move indeed.

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