During a livestream yesterday, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social giant will finally implement the ‘Dislike” button on its platform after years and years of people asking for it.
The news went viral, of course. Everyone’s talking about it. Out of curiosity, I made a text post on my 500,000 fans page asking people their opinions just to see the different viewpoints on the subject from various angles. Responses varied, of course. However, while I engaged in dialogue with my fans, seeing things their way, I couldn’t help but think of one single important factor that should be good enough reason for the Dislike button to never be implemented. At least not globally. Or at least not until Facebook does something about one of its security flaws. Being someone with a somewhat moderate IT background, I felt that it should at least be brought to people’s attention before the ball gets rolling just so the entire picture could be evaluated properly.
But first, before I go into that, let me make it clear that I am not against the Dislike button. I believe that it does make sense to “Dislike” the news of a beloved one passing away rather than giving it a ‘Like’. The same goes for sad stories, of course. I always found it weird to ‘like’ a breaking news about some major earthquake which claimed the lives of thousands of people. And, as a page owner, I also feel that the metric is valuable. It gives good feedback. One can then gauge both the negative and positive numbers to have a good idea of what resonates with fans and what doesn’t. It is also a good thing for intellectuals to be able to rightfully exercise as a filtering measure of sorts, especially on social media where most of the time content is asinine.
However, with all that said… let me dive straight into the one thing that is nabbing at my subconscious: The IT side of things. Some people know that there is such a thing called “Fake Likes”, however a vast majority of folks aren’t even aware of it. It only takes one Google search to come up with heaps of websites offering thousands and thousands of “Likes” for a small fee. Most of the time, these services are sought by people who just want many Likes on a personal photo or some status update just for personal fulfillment or to impress friends. Why would people buy fake Likes? I am in no position to pass around judgement. Maybe it boosts up their confidence? Maybe they just want to put on a fake presence? I don’t know and that is irrelevant to go into, as it is not the point. The point is, the means of obtaining Likes is possible and is there. These are “empty and hollow” Likes, meaning they serve no purpose (business or otherwise) for pages, as they do not increase reach or metrics in general and often are penalized by FB’s bots detection system. They’re only good for those who want to be seen with a high number of likes to insinuate popularity on their personal side walls.
So, the question is….in the end, who does buying the Likes affect? No one. Only that person who bought them (for whatever reason) is affected, right? I mean, I cannot hurt you or insult you if I go give something you posted a Like even if you hate my guts. At worst, you’ll just raise an eyebrow and do a little ‘hmmm’ under your breath. So as far as buying Fake Likes to use them on anything goes, one can assume it pretty much has no negative psychological affect on anyone, except on who is buying them… and it’s only logical to assume the affect must be positive for them.
How is the whole thing made possible? Well, not to get too technical, the way it’s made possible is because Facebook is partially scripted using the PHP coding language. Every single ID on Facebook has something called “token access” and every single post on Facebook has a unique numerical ID. That means, it is VERY viable to not even know someone, do not even have them in your friends’ list, have no association with them, have no clue they even exist, and yet, simply from your public post, they could go and send you thousands of “Likes”.
And, yes, you guessed it. If Dislike is introduced on Facebook, that means the option to buy Dislikes will now be possible, too. It’s just the same thing as Likes: a metric. So, now in a digital world full of too much drama, bickering, heated arguments and a social pool often found with so much negativity floating around, imagine what the impact of buying “Dislikes” would cause — all the drama and negativity that would ensue. Picture that and think youth. Keep holding that thought a bit longer and think of how many cases there are of teenagers who committed suicide due to online harassment and bullying.
And the Dislike button could be used just for that. Psychological harassment and bullying. In a typical social media setting, the usual harassment goes in the form of private messages or comments. I say something hateful to you, and you delete/block me. Most of the time, you won’t think much of it because I gave you a reason. A justification. I insulted you. But with the Dislike now in play, I could harass you without EVEN saying a word to you. From a psychological standpoint, this now puts you under mental stress: Why did he/she Dislike my image? Is it because I am fat? Is it because I am skinny? Is it because I am black? Is it because I’m a lesbian? Is it because I’m a Jew? Is it because I’m a Muslim? Is it this, is it that…so many “is it”s about it. Sick minds will now use this harassment tool as something to inflict mental torture on those they are harassing. ‘Uncalled-for Stress’ would be a better term. People would now be finding themselves spending a lot of time questioning things in their heads. Why? Because the function itself has been implemented, and that now allows those who are knowledgeable on PHP to either use it to harass or offer it as a service to those who don’t but are willing to pay for it to harass others.
Imagine a chubby teenage girl/boy waking up to see 4,000 Dislikes on his/her picture which they took months mustering the courage up to post. Would it even cross their mind that their harasser used means of “Fake Dislikes” ? And what sort of consequences would this have if this girl/boy wakes up every day to the same perpetual scenario, while some jealous or hateful person sits back ‘enjoying’ him/herself practicing this ‘fun’ thing to do day in, day out because they can?
Actually, I’ll give a better example: Consider those pages where you often see women attacked by trolls (such as feminist pages) who come insulting them with a (‘Shut up and get back in the Kitchen and make me a sammich, bitch”) stereotype comment meme . Most of the time, people, when they come across trolls, sort of result to the subconscious checking of their Likes compared to that of the Troll’s for an evaluation. [[[ Ha! I got 300 likes, people agreeing with me, so your 10 likes dissing me won’t shake me ]]] Troll then goes and sends 4,000 Dislikes to her post and 8,000 Likes to his “insulting meme”. Do you get the image now? Can you visualize the impact a simple Dislike function can have on people in terms of psychological abuse?
In conclusion: Facebook must either patch up their security system to secure PHP codes from being injected so people could not be able to generate fake Likes/Dislikes/Comments or they should only make this Dislike option available to public pages or, better yet, not name it “Dislike” at all but something in the lines of “Sorry” or “Sad To Hear/Read That” for empaths in lieu of sad stories.. Keep it out of personal profiles.
If this message resonates and makes sense to you, please share it.
Written by Ali B. Moe, founder EnchantingMinds