People can now downvote inappropriate comments to hide them on Facebook. But what Facebook does with signals about problematic comments could raise new questions about censorship, and its role as a news editor and media company.
The motivation for the button is to create a lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading.
When tapped, the downvote button hides a comment, and gives users additional reporting options like “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”. Those could help Facebook figure out if the comment is objectionable, a form of “fake news”, or just irrelevant. Facebook already has a “Hide” button for comments, but it’s usually hidden behind the drop-down arrow on comments rather than immediately clickable.
Though not a dislike button, its sure acts a lot like it. This has been the most requested Facebook feature, but Facebook has officially never given it. Instead, Facebook built the Reactions options that let you respond to posts and comments with love, wow, haha, sad or angry emoji.
The downvote button ties in with Facebook’s recent push to enhance its users’ well-being by prioritizing News Feed content that drives meaningful interactions instead of passive, zombie browsing. That led Facebook to show fewer viral videos, which in turn contributed to a 700,000 user decrease in U.S. and Canada daily active users — its first decline ever anywhere — and Facebook’s slowest DAU growth rate it’s ever reported.
But one way Facebook could generate more meaningful interaction could be by ensuring the most interesting comments are at the top of posts. Facebook already ranks comments by relevancy based on Likes and replies. But the downvote button could ensure that if objectionable comments rise up and stall discussion, Facebook will know.
Why It’s Hot:
- Though not a dislike button it sure acts like a dislike button with teeth
- It’s framed as part of their efforts to address fake news, but the truth is that they have recently experienced their first loss of users and this could be an effort to ensure the most interesting topics to each user rise to the top, and those that are objectionable don’t interrupt the experience
- It’s going to be very interesting to see results, especially given the options of “misleading” and “off topic” as these are highly subjective…also if these will apply to advertisers