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Facebook Is Building an 'Empathy Button' 127

jones_supa writes: The Dislike button has long been the most requested feature from Facebook users. So when Mark Zuckerberg said in a public Q&A session that the company was working on an alternative to things that are inappropriate to "Like," news outlets around the world sprung into action saying that the masses would soon get their wish. Don't hold your breath for a button called "Dislike." On the video, Zuck explicitly says that that's not what Facebook is building, but a way to express empathy towards sad occurrences.
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Facebook Is Building an 'Empathy Button'

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  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:10AM (#50531199) Homepage Journal
    Is teach all Facebook users what the word "empathy" means.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:18AM (#50531293)

      Just tell them it means "dislike".

      Then watch the fallout.

    • IMHO, the only thing LESS empathetic than the laziness of a single button to express empathy rather than actually composing kind sentences is to do nothing.

      • Eh, most people have a hard time coming up with something sincere at a time when people need sincerity the most. People in front of you could choose to give you a hug or pat on the back, but people who aren't kind of need a substitute and articulation is not an option.

        I don't hate the "like" button, and I admit that and anything like it often fails to capture the complexity of human feeling, but I don't disregard it as "lazy", either.

        • Moss: I never know what to say to people at funerals.

          Roy: Me too. I'm terrible.

          Jen: Just say you're sorry and move on. [To Denholm's wife] He'll be in our prayers.

          Roy: [to Denholm's wife] I'm sorry for your loss. Move on.

          -from The IT Crowd

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        I believe this is backward. Doing nothing is preferable to the thoughtless and lazy act of pressing a single button. I really don't see why typing "Sorry for your loss" or "Get well soon" has become a chore to some people. Don't get me wrong, I know that lazy idiots are out there in droves. I just didn't expect that the numbers favored being so lazy and idiotic that they can't think or take the time to type 3-4 words.

        • The opposite of love is not hate but apathy.

        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          Its not a chore, but its empty. And as someone who has posted a sad story, I'd rather see "200 people have expressed sympathy" than be forced to scroll through 200 people saying the exact same fucking trite saying.

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )
            Why not close access to your information instead of keeping it open to 200 people, then complaining about the consequences of the audience you have chosen?
      • I think there's something much lower than that, and the internet and the ability to communicate to such a large group of people has shown us that there are a lot of people who care nothing about tragedy, but will create a fine display of sympathy to feed their own narcissistic desire for attention.

        Several weeks ago I saw a news story about some high school kid that was accused of encouraging a classmate to commit suicide so that they could make social media posts about how their friend died and try to ra
      • Dont keep scrolling, see the angel. 1 like = 1 ignore, 1 empathy = 1 prayer.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      It's like the way you'd feel if your friend crashed his car 2 hours before he was supposed to give you a ride to the airport.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      It never should have been "like"; that's inherently confusing. It should have been something like "appreciate" or "recommend" or "uprate".

      Example:

      "Just wanted to let you know... my mother's long struggle with cancer is over. She passed away at 12:43 today. :( She had been suffering so much..." (LIKE) - Bad!

      Vs...

      "Just wanted to let you know... my mother's long struggle with cancer is over. She passed away at 12:43 today. :( She had been suffering so much..." (APPRECIATE) - Better!
      "Just wanted to let

    • not that I want to friend Zuck to use it, not that at all.....

    • Is teach all Facebook users what the word "empathy" means.

      Yes, please tell me what this is and how I may acquire some. Do they accept Bitcoin? Does it have anything to do with puppies? Or pr0n? Because I am very empathy about those.

  • and the most "liked".
  • I got an idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:15AM (#50531257) Journal

    ...how about a "we don't give a shit about your oversized monetized data-vacuum" button?

    Okay, maybe too harsh, and I get it - the website has become dominant, and most folks are on it at least 1-2x a day, if not longer. But honestly, when some tiny website feature becomes breathless news, maybe we got our priorities screwed up?

    • Oh, come on .. pretty much all tech "news" reporting is of the breathless variety these days.

      I bet Wall Street analysts are trying to figure out the direction the stock will swing with this, and by how much. Every tech reporter is swooning and soiling their knickers over a new feature in Facebook, which they will dutifully report. Police departments are busy planning free speech zones to contain the excited crowds. Universities are preparing to study the global socio-economic impact of this new button.

      Of

      • by umghhh ( 965931 )
        I like the idea that people think. How many FB users, do you think, will indulge in this laborious activity? More than 3?
    • If as you say, "most folks are on it at least 1-2x a day, if not longer" then clearly it is relevant news to "most folks". Is it 'important'? - No, and few people would claim that it was, but it doesn't have to be "important news" to be "news".

      Back OT - I agree with Zuckerberg, a "dislike" button would be the death of FB, it's bread and butter comes from millions of old fart "sheeple" like me who do not want to keep in contact with their grandkids via reddit, tyvm.
      • If as you say, "most folks are on it at least 1-2x a day, if not longer" then clearly it is relevant news to "most folks".

        And whoever says that completely mixes up frequency and duration! Come on, this used to be news for Nerds!

      • If as you say, "most folks are on it at least 1-2x a day, if not longer" then clearly it is relevant news to "most folks". Is it 'important'? - No, and few people would claim that it was, but it doesn't have to be "important news" to be "news".

        Back OT - I agree with Zuckerberg, a "dislike" button would be the death of FB, it's bread and butter comes from millions of old fart "sheeple" like me who do not want to keep in contact with their grandkids via reddit, tyvm.

        I admit to using Facebook to keep in touch with people across the globe (including my in-laws). On more than one occasion I have replied with the words Do not like followed by sincere commiseration for what that person posted. If there's a news article about a group helping after a major disaster, do I likeit because of the group's efforts, or would that indicate that I like the disaster, too? With a whole range of emotions and levels of support, a simple Like button often falls flat.

    • by orasio ( 188021 )

      To be honest, that's not tiny.
      Facebook mediates social interaction for large numbers of people.
      Tiny changes like this can affect real life a lot, making bullying easier/harder, making it easier to pick fights with family, helping you lose your job, b/c you pushed dislike on they press releases.

      This is small stuff, but it's small stuff at a very large scale. That's why it's news.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        There are some ways which I think that Facebook, while a giant money-centered corporate overlord, does some good. In particular I'm thinking about how many times recently I've seen friends post BS stories on Facebook, and immediately there pops up underneath "related links" that almost always include debunking or counterpoint links. Facebook deserves serious kudos for that one. I don't know if they do it as a deliberate counterpoint-posting system or just "the things most frequently posted as a response", b

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      ...how about a "we don't give a shit about your oversized monetized data-vacuum" button?

      Okay, maybe too harsh, and I get it - the website has become dominant, and most folks are on it at least 1-2x a day, if not longer. But honestly, when some tiny website feature becomes breathless news, maybe we got our priorities screwed up?

      Maybe they should be working on something more useful, like a dating tab. They could bury all the other dating websites in a month if their matchmaking system was even halfway decent. And it could be very good, they have plenty of data to mine regarding both individuals and short/long term relationships.

    • by Art3x ( 973401 )

      So Facebook needs an ennui button?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:17AM (#50531283)

    No problem, as long as you give us ANY button besides "like". The community will just USE it as a "dislike" button. You need not call it that. We will do that for you.

    • Community may call that button what they want to call it - butthis won't change the meaning of the button.

      I remember a lawsuit few years ago where someone hit the "like" button to join in a discussion about whatever it was with some critical remarks, and then sued facebook for stating "user x likes y" to his "friends". His argument also was that "the community" does not use the like button exclusively as a "like" button.

      I'm all in for creative misuse of features, but complaining when someone uses or interpr

      • As long as it's just some bullshit feelgood button, it's going to work out.

        Seriously, if you can get sued over this nonsense, something bigger is going wrong here than whether or not Farcebook has some button.

      • Well, there's two things here:

        Facebook was using people's posts and likes as unauthorized advertising, which really annoyed people. Suddenly you're doing product endorsements instead of just clicking "Like" on a posting by Coke.

        Secondly, "like" conveys .. well, "like", not "follow" or "acknowledge" or "important but awful".

        Really, if you see a story which says "school shooting, 30 dead" ... "like" just isn't the appropriate verb. People want to acknowledge the story without saying "gee, I'm really in favo

        • Well, there's two things here:

          Facebook was using people's posts and likes as unauthorized advertising, which really annoyed people. Suddenly you're doing product endorsements instead of just clicking "Like" on a posting by Coke.

          Secondly, "like" conveys .. well, "like", not "follow" or "acknowledge" or "important but awful".

          Really, if you see a story which says "school shooting, 30 dead" ... "like" just isn't the appropriate verb.

          That's why I don't hit "like" in such a situation.

          People want to acknowledge the story without saying "gee, I'm really in favor of school shootings".

          Yes, I fully understand that, but facebook doesn't offer such an option (yet). But you're still hitting a button that's clearly and obviously marked with "I like". Happening what's labeled on a button should be no surprise. People might tread a toilet flush like a drinking water dispenser or a fire alarm like a funny noise generator to scare animals away - but they should not be surprised if one day an actual fire brigade shows up. Or a doorbell making a rin

          • You may have seen "Out of order" signs on button that were not working as labeled, but have you ever seen a warning "Caution: Button works as labeled"? Probably followed by a "The above sign is meant literally" and a "Yes, that's true"

            Followed by "Or maybe not, I'm a sign, not a cop."

            They just need to call it what it really is: a "Feels" button.

        • Surely if your friend posted a story on "school shooting, 30 dead" they'd have a comment at the end like "so sad" at least. It's their comment you're "liking".
    • The poster will have to explicitly enable this button as an alternative to "Like". You won't get a chance to push it instead of Like, unless it is enabled for the specific post. So, unfortunately, no "Condolences on you being Napoleon in previous life".
  • is probably insufficient to bring empathy to the internet.
  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:25AM (#50531371) Homepage

    Is it that hard to just leave a comment?

    Even "My condolences. :(" is better than hitting a stupid button. We've become a culture that needs a button for everything; I've made posts that get dozens of Likes or +1s or whatever, and have only one or two commments. People don't want to take the time to say how they really feel.

    That's one thing I liked about Livejournal, and miss now. There is no "Like", so people left comments more. Even a simple "way to go!" is better than hitting "Like".

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Mod parent up please. He makes good points.

    • I would've just modded you up but I'm out of mod points :( I guess I'll just have to comment instead. :P

      Seriously though, you make an excellent point. It's bad enough people have a hard time even speaking with someone on the phone or in person. I'm mostly an introvert but I refuse to communicate solely over text or IM much less via buttons or emoticons. I can't even imagine what relationships, whether just friends or more, will be like in the near future if people never interact with each other like you sta

    • Yes, but comments are much more difficult to translate directly into data points than simple clicks of approval.
    • People don't want to take the time to say how they really feel.

      I have a standard one word reply to far-right propaganda from FB friends that tells them exactly how I feel, "Unsubscribe". I haven't lost any FB friends, and the "offensive material" dried up more or less as soon as I started doing it. Try it on your own pet peeve, you will be surprised at just how powerful one word can be.

    • Is it that hard to just leave a comment?

      Have you actually bothered to read what such comments tend to look like? "Sending prayers!" "Hugs!" "Our thoughts are with you" and other 100% pure, unadulterated platitudes that are no different than saying "bless you" when someone sneezes. Do those people REALLY think they need to invoke the blessings of a magical being every time somebody sneezes? No. It's a bit of cultural kabuki that gets played on cruise control just like all of the reflexive empathy statements that people might as well be copying an

      • "My condolences" ... really? That's NOT better than a button. It's WORSE.

        I won't go that far, but I do agree that a Like-button cleans up the cruft.

        I really fucking hate it when random fucking Google+ (I know, shut up) posts are riddled with only completely meaningless comments such as 'Gud post' and 'Wow!!!'. Imagine the increase in shit if the Like/+1 buttons weren't there.

      • "My condolences" ... really? That's NOT better than a button. It's WORSE. Because if you actually meant it, you'd have more to say.

        When someone close to you dies there is almost nothing you can say.

        And for people you don't know well, anything more than a simple conventionality is just showing off.

    • Good sir, I offer my sincerest and most hearty congratulations upon your sage writings. I shall bequeath upon you an IOU for an increased value of moderation that of which I currently lack.
    • That's one thing I liked about Livejournal, and miss now. There is no "Like", so people left comments more. Even a simple "way to go!" is better than hitting "Like".

      Me too!

  • Sociopaths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:26AM (#50531379) Journal

    What kind of a sociopath hears "our users want express empathy" and responds with "button?"

  • Watch for Facebook to sell keyboards with an extra row of key for all of their new buttons, along with buttons "to be assigned". I really dislike Facebook, but don't expect them to go away. I wish they would anyway.
  • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:36AM (#50531505)
    Was hoping for Apathy. Is it too late for a "Meh" option?
  • i'm just full of it
  • by subanark ( 937286 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:39AM (#50531555)

    Having been a long time player of the 1 vs 1 hearthstone game I can tell you that 80% of the time the emote button, which is the only way to communicate with your opponent, is often used in a negative way.

    Some of the emotes are:

    "Well played": Should be used to indicate a good move by your opponent of that you admit defeat. Often used to indicate "Give up I've already one"

    "Thank you": Should be used to indicate a move by your opponent that was beneficial to you. Often used at the start to indicate "Thank you for the win I will get scrub"

    "Hello": Should be used to indicate a friendly greeting. Often used to announce a play that swings the game in your favor.

    If facebook simply allows any emotion for any post, people will associate certain emotes as "hate".

    Laughing at misfortune.
    Being sad at accomplishments: "You call that an accomplishment, that is sad"

    No matter how friendly you make them, people will associate some actions as less than favorable

  • I am waiting for something else. How about a middle finger up button?
  • The problem with like or any button is it does not improve ones relationships, it distances people. Comments get closer, but social media being impersonal, and easy like buttons, there is no true emotional investment and removes one from others. I can't remember the last time I was called or I have called anyone on the phone just to chat. Nothing is new because everything is superficially placed in soundbytes amongst the kitten and baby pics. If someone needs empathy, maybe they need a call, or non-virt
  • Oh, you mean 'insightful'?

  • >> Hugs. Aw, what's wrong? Sending prayers!!! Hang in there.

    And...that's why I quit Facebook years ago.

    • A "Hug" button would actually makes sense. You can't "like" a post that says "my relative died". A hug would be a perfect button to represent empathy.
  • One of the world's highest-rated places on Yelp is Auschwitz, but obviously people are rating it for historical importance, not as an accommodation. Ideally we would invent a single control that allows a person to rate up or down on as many as three factors at once, say by placing a dot inside a cube.

    Jonny Ive, the white phone, please...

  • Zuck explicitly says that that's not what Facebook is building, but a way to express empathy

    I don't care what "Zuck" has done.

  • And this is why G+'s +1 (with the benefit of hindsight) is superior. you're not giving anything the thumbs up

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    Because people would dump their FB accounts if they could see how much people disliked their post.

    Would probably affect advertisers as well.

  • Nobody will know what that button is for. Those that do know won't use it.
  • Too bad digg.com didn't have one or there wouldn't of been a wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have a much better idea, how about you add a voting system!
    Thumbs up. So-so hand gesture. Thumbs Down.
    Problem solved.

    And add little smiley buttons next to posts instead of making people have to go in and actively click it from the emoticon list. Who wants to do that? Duuuhh, nobody!

  • Why not a 'meh' button?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Redundant. If you're using facebook to express your opinion, you're already "meh" about the world.

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @11:36AM (#50532897)

    ... isn't it just a little more appropriate to post, you know, an actual comment expressing your condolences? I realize that we're all pressed for time and have dozens of cute cat pictures to "like" while on FB but if clicking on a button is the extent of your response to someone's loss, illness, etc. ... That's pretty pathetic.

  • "Feels" button

  • The dislike button will be the biggest asset for companies to know whether the public likes it or not its content. In my agency SA Design [sadesign.com.br], we will use as thermometer the amount of dislikes by post.
  • by danomatika ( 1977210 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @12:32PM (#50533463)

    I'd prefer a "Shit Happens" button, myself.

  • by ToxicBanjo ( 905105 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @01:50PM (#50534247)
    I stay away from that data mining, privacy exploiting piece of shit.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Damn. STILL no middle finger icon?

  • Good use for the empathy button :
    - New couple
    - My new tattoo
    - Look at my drawing
    - Just married
    - We are going to this place for our holidays
    - Babies

  • "I just got fired from my job!" - Do you hit the Like button or the new "I feel ya, bro" button.
    You know, since nobody takes a "like" literally by the dictionary definition on FB anymore, how about they just add a dislike button so I can go around hating on stuff. That's all anyone on the internet really wants. It would be the end of stupid, gimmicky, trying to hard marketing campaigns created by 20-somethings with a 2 year degree in marketing that some idiotic corporation hires to drum up pretend intere
  • I just took it to be something object oriented:

    ($happy_story)->like() = function () { echo 'Yay!!!' };
    ($sad_story)->like() = function () { echo 'I am sorry' };

    (No the syntax above is not any particular language, which is good.)

    Or as a layman would simply state, "It depends on the context."

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"

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