Questionably the most popular social networking site to ever exist, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced that Facebook will be adding a dislike button to its mix. Its initial purpose will provide a way for users to express their sympathies and disagreements in a safe manner via web. However, when your 12-year-old cousin posts a picture of a new back to school outfit and you see more thumbs down than thumbs up, does this dislike button still serve as a safe outlet for disagreements and sympathy? Can we trust the average Facebook user to responsibly adhere to dislike button guidelines?
About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. Worldwide, there are 1.49 billion active Facebook users, leaving almost 1.5 billion people to misunderstand the use of the button that is intended to allow for safe emission of online emotion.
In a statement concerning the release of the update, Zuckerberg states, “What they really want is an ability to express empathy. If you’re expressing something sad … it may not feel comfortable to ‘like’ that post, but your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand.”
In theory, it sounds like a safe idea that will allow for other outlets when sharing sympathy for the death of a loved one, a sad memory and even a terrible national or worldwide tragedy.
In the same sense, we must remember that many young teens abuse Facebook each day. I am taking this stance as an 18-year-old college freshman who has seen cyberbullying first hand. Being a middle schooler with a cell phone gives you privilege to apps, music and websites alike. Will students this young understand the difference between a joking “dislike” and a serious “dislike?” The ability to simply click a button takes away from the pressure of formulating sentenced insults and kids may not comprehend why their friend is upset over more thumbs down than thumbs up.
Should the millennial generation respect this feature, the Facebook posting and sharing norms would better the website and thus decrease the potential cyberbullying that could follow. However, Facebook decides to implement this facet, the responsibility relies on the user and all involved.