Facebook inches ever closer to introducing 'dislike' feature

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To give users greater expression, Facebook introduced a raft of emoticons to express outrage, shock or affection on comments in February 2016. Now, however, Facebook is testing a downvote button among a subset of users.

Speaking at a town hall event in September 2015, Zuckerberg said he didn't want Facebook to turn into a place where people "upvoted" and "downvoted" comments.

"We are not testing a dislike button", the company said in an email.

In tests on a small number of Android app users, the Downvote option sits next to the Like and Reply options beneath a post.

That's the official line from Facebook after the company was spotted testing the new feature on some people's accounts on Thursday. The Verge reported that the social network had confirmed to them that it was considering the downvote option but this would be limited to public votes and as an option for "flagging questionable comments".

The focus on moderating the comments of public posts is in line with Facebook's recent drive for brand safety in the wake of the "fake news" scandal and associated controversies.

When a user taps the downvote button, they are presented with three options: Offensive, Misleading and Off Topic.

SEE ALSO: Facebook employees only get one shot to ask out a coworker.

The test of the downvote button may be part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's resolution for 2018.

The downvote button ties in with Facebook's recent push to enhance its users' well-being by prioritizing News Feed content that drives meaningful interactions instead of passive, zombie browsing.

The idea behind the feature is to give users the chance to downvote comments - it does not appear to give the same option to posts. "We need to figure out the right way to do it so it ends up being a force for good, not a force for bad and demeaning the posts that people are putting out there". This prompted speculation that the company was about to take a page from Reddit and implement actual comment downvoting.

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