February 12, 2018
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Hot on the heels of Google’s recent news feed focus shift, it seems Facebook users will have yet another new feature to trial shortly. The social media giant recently confirmed to Tech Crunch that it was testing a new ‘downvote’ button.
For those of you who are rejoicing at the release of a dislike button, hold on a moment; that isn’t quite how it will work. The button, which is currently being trialled by a small pool of US users, will help Facebook gain feedback about comments on public page posts.
When a ‘downvote’ button is clicked for a particular comment, the comment will be hidden for that particular user. They will then have the opportunity to select why they have ‘downvoted’ the comment, choosing from potential options including ‘offensive’, ‘misleading’ or ‘off-topic’.
However, it’s important to remember that ‘downvoting’ a comment won’t affect its appearance in other user’s news feeds. So what’s the point in the button at all?
For a long time, Facebook has been under scrutiny to better control the content that is shared on its site. Some see Facebook’s introduction of the ‘downvote’ button as the company shirking its responsibility as a publisher, placing the role of evaluating content on users.
Others believe it is the latest development in Facebook’s quest to promote more meaningful interaction on the platform. The ‘downvote’ could be a way for Facebook to become aware of objectionable comments that disrupt interaction on the site and ultimately reduce the visibility of these comments and even users.
If this was to be the case, serious questions about censorship could be raised — for example, what qualifies as an inappropriate comment?
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