The ongoing Facebook content dispute has been a somewhat messy & multi-faceted one, with lots of implications & potential social consequences extending far beyond the website itself. Not considering whether we approve or not, Facebook has understandably been trying to free & distance itself from the ongoing debates vis-à-vis post-truth, fake news & other sticky issues of the day. Evasion, denial & pleading bystander, however, are not very prospective strategies ultimately.
Enter the new “downvote” button – the latest & probably not the last in the company’s efforts to ease the crisis. It is a new beta feature, presently undergoing testing on around 5 percent of English-speaking, US Android users of the platform. It’s an extra button that shows next to the Like & reply buttons on certain content on the platform. Hitting it shows 3 options for flagging said content as either “Offensive,” “Misleading,” or “Off-Topic”. The idea here, being that Facebook can track these reports & flag posts & even users in view of that.
It’s somewhat of an update over the present reporting system, but that’s not as vital as a few other aspects of the feature. First up, Facebook is once again making it copiously clear that this isn’t a “dislike button”. The social giant has already made its position on the whole Reddit-style rating system on several occasions, alleging that all users really needed was the ability to react in a different way to information. Hence, the still comparatively new reaction emojis.
— Christina Hudler (@hudlersocial) February 8, 2018
Facebook also alleges that it already has systems in place that can handle annoying ad & “clickbaiting”, including vote baiting, react baiting & share baiting content on its own very well. The “downvote” button appears to be aimed at crowdsourcing complaints to spot neutrally false or inappropriately placed & out of context content.
In the “post-truth” era, letting users vote on the level of correctness, relevance or offensiveness of a certain statement or information is a flawed solution for an imperfect world. It eliminates none of the prejudice involved in the process. At least, as some form of alleviation, it seems that presently Facebook is only trying the button out on comments, on public Page posts. Groups posts or those submitted by individuals presently seem to be left out of the new system. This at least implies that the end objective is battling disinformation.
Do you see the “downvote” button as a proper way of dealing with issues & what issues is Facebook even targeting to start with? Do you see it working? Use the comment box to air your view.