Facebook toys with the idea of a ‘sympathize’ button

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People have asked Facebook for a Dislike button since shortly after the Like button was introduced (see: countless aggressive petitions). Well, Facebook’s no closer to instating a Dislike button, but according to Facebook engineer Dan Murillo, the company has considered the idea of a “sympathize” button to help users show their support for friends going through a tough time. 

Murillo discussed the possibility of a it at Facebook’s Compassionate Research Day, held December 5. The potential button wouldn’t appear alongside the Like button — instead, whenever a user expressed a negative emotion or reported a hardship, Facebook would replace the Like button with the Sympathize button, so users could show their support without implying that they like what’s happening.

People would have to select “sad” or “depressed” from Facebook’s list of emotions available for the button to change, so it probably wouldn’t work in some cases — and more importantly, many of the ideas introduced at Facebook hackathons remain just that: ideas. And although Murillo noted that colleagues liked the Sympathize button idea, he said it was not yet the right time to launch the product. 

Will it ever get launched? This is what a Facebook spokesperson had to say: “Hackathons are a big tradition at Facebook. They serve as the foundation for great innovation and thinking about how we can better serve people around the world. Some of our best ideas come from hackathons, and the many ideas that don’t get pursued often help us think differently about how we can improve our service.”

So, basically, probably not, at least as it’s conceived right now. But the “sympathize” button contains the kernel of a very interesting idea: customizable response buttons. Instead of limiting our options to ‘liking’ something, it’d be interesting if we could choose from a variety of verbs — I’d love a “vehemently disagree” button to press when someone posts a wackadoo political statement. 

[h/t Huffington Post


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