Facebook users will soon be able to downvote comments that they don’t like, similar to what you see on Reddit. The new upvote and downvote system enables Facebook users to send unpopular or controversial comments and opinions to oblivion while promoting the comments they like or agree with.
Facebook has been testing the Reddit-style feature for a while now in places such as Australia and New Zealand, and it looks like that the company is preparing for a site-wide rollout of the feature.
“People have told us they would like to see better public discussions on Facebook, and want spaces where people with different opinions can have more constructive dialogue. To that end, we’re running a small test in New Zealand which allows people to upvote or downvote comments on public Page posts,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Our hope is that this feature will make it easier for us to create such spaces, by ranking the comments that readers believe deserve to rank highest, rather than the comments that get the strongest emotional reaction.”
While Facebook’s intention is good, the move garnered plenty of criticism. “Even before I entered the trial, the system’s problems seemed glaring, a tool waiting to be abused. With its anonymity and reliance on mob rule, it’s the perfect feature for trolls and bots… to silence opinions through effective organizing and well-policed echo chambers,” wrote Rachel Withers of Slate.
Reddit is a popular social media platform where users can post news articles and discuss topics often under the cloak of anonymity. The site has been criticized as a platform for “echo chambers” where “certain ideas, beliefs or data points are reinforced through repetition of a closed system that does not allow for the free movement of alternative or competing ideas or concepts.”
Facebook reiterated that the downvote feature is not a dislike button. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he doesn’t want Facebook to turn into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. But this new feature seems to be doing exactly that.