Facebook Testing Downvote Button to Let Users Flag Inappropriate Comments

Facebook Testing Downvote Button to Let Users Flag Inappropriate Comments
  • The new button is available for 5 percent of Android users in the US
  • It is designed to flag inappropriate and unsuitable comments
  • The button is only available on posts by Pages, and not by Groups, etc.

A couple of years after letting its users show their "Reactions", Facebook has now eventually started testing a downvote button to offer a way to flag inappropriate and unsuitable comments. The new development is initially reported to be limited in nature, particularly available for 5 percent of Android users in the US who've set English as their primary language. Nevertheless, the availability of the downvote button does bring Facebook one step closer to a typical media company as it would give the social media community a way to censor comments that are questionable with respect to a particular post.

The download button will help Facebook understand which comments on a post are "offensive", "misleading", or "off topic" as these options come just after the users tap the button available below a particular comment. By this way, the Mark Zuckerberg-led company would get a chance to not just limit inappropriate comments but also fight back against the growing number of misleading information feeds that often emerge on Facebook in the form of "fake news". The company is facing criticism around the growth of fake news on its site for a long time, and it hasn't so far been succeeded to curb the circulation of those type of news stories. That being said, the downvote button is likely to give Facebook an option to view how misleading information is seeding through its site.

In the past, there was a huge demand for a dislike button on Facebook, which was speculated to sit alongside the like button. But the social media giant brought its Reactions in February 2016 to give multiple options to react on a post or comment, instead of merely hit dislike. However, Reactions aren't something that allows people to flag any objectionable content. This is where a dislike button was required. But Facebook has ultimately preferred the downvote button to give its users to mark comments that aren't completely fitting with a post.

Refuting any testing for a dislike button and detailing the arrival of the downvote button, a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch, "We are not testing a dislike button. We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts." The test is presently quite limited, just for a small set of people in the US only. Moreover, TechCrunch reports that the downvote button only appears on public Page posts and not on posts by any Groups, public figures, or users.

As the prime aim of designing the downvote button is to help Facebook receive feedback directly from users, downvote view counts are not being visible to users, as appeared in screenshots posted by social media strategist Christina Hudler in a tweet. This makes the new button different from the Like button as users can view the count of total likes on a comment.

facebook downvote button christina hudler twitter Facebook Downvote button

Photo Credit: Christina Hudler/ Twitter

It is unclear how Facebook is planning to expand the use case of the downvote button in the future. Nevertheless, it is quite presumable that the Menlo Park-headquartered company will be able to enhance user engagements through the new move as more users would get a chance to mark inappropriate comments - at least, initially on public page posts. This may lead to some false reports as well, you can speculate what would happen if a comment goes against any particular interest or preference.

But of course, the prime objective behind bringing the downvote button is not to enhance user engagements. It appears to be mainly to make Facebook a more people-friendly place for interactions and also to give Facebook the option to obtain some insights on how its users react to different types of discussions. Enhancing user engagements was something related to Reactions, though. But the company failed to do so at the initial stage, as claimed by an early report. The report, which was published by social media analytics and benchmarking tool for processionals Quintly in May 2016, highlighted that among the 130,000 posts filtered, users rarely take the time to give their opinion about a post and prefer to "Like" it and scroll on.

Notably, Facebook isn't alone in the Web world to offer the downvote button. Reddit also has the identical option on its platform, and Redditors commonly use it to regulate comments in a specific thread.


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Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at jagmeets@ndtv.com. Please send in your leads and tips. More
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