Aug 25 2015

The logic of Like and Dislike in Social Media

Social media is all about sharing, discussion, and feedback. In general, social media services will always feature allowing users to comment, saying exactly what they think. There are, however, often simpler ways to express your opinion on a given post – a “like” feature.


Be it Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Ello, or even YouTube,  there are very simple single-click options for users to show their general opinion on a post quickly. Some services notify users of who has given this click, but a few don’t, which is fine, until it is abused.

One element common among nearly all social media services is that this quick feedback feature is usually only positive – you can like, love, up-rate, or generally show appreciation of an action on effectively all services, but only on a few allow you to be negative in the same way. Reddit and YouTube are the two prime examples of this, but there are more scattered out there.

What could be the harm in allowing users to say they dislike something? Indeed, often, there are posts on Facebook that say we “want a dislike button” so users can show their disdain for a given subject. The idea seems harmless enough, until you delve into human behavior on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, genuinely disliking something is a completely valid opinion, and the idea of sharing such isn’t bad on its own. The problem comes in that people can, and will, abuse such. When given a chance, some types of people will opt to use such to spread as much negativity as possible. While it’s a small effort thing to downvote or dislike something, the results of such do add up, and can be detrimental.

Due to such abuse, most social media sites do not have any ability to dislike a post – if someone does have a disagreement with the topic at hand, they can address it via text, rather than the quick and often anonymous dislike features. This proves beneficial for those who do have actual dislike for something in that they can express their opinion as feedback, or carry on dialog, rather than just arbitrarily hate something without the reasons being shared.

One could argue that the like feature could be removed under the same abuse logic, and that if someone likes something they could just say “I like this” and maybe explain why, but in general positive actions are never abused like negative ones are – besides who would get upset over someone liking something they shared?

The ideas of liking and disliking something, while opposite ends of the same basic concept, do function somewhat differently in practice. In the end, it seems better to promote positivity than negativity, as YouTube shows in prime form; many videos uploaded by popular creators will quickly be negatively voted on just for the sake of it.

Now, I do vote against some content as well, where I truly dislike it. However, most content I do not agree with I simply ignore – it is only those things worthy of my contempt that I will downvote, and often times, these are things already considered to be poor quality of worthy of rejection. I don’t hit dislike simply to attack something for the sake of hate.

My buddy Prince Watercress and I had a nice chat about this subject recently, which is worth sharing here. Enjoy!

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1 comment

  1. A very good analysis. “Like”:) even though i may not get all the nuances of what you guys were saying.
    That’s only because i don’t have an insider’s perspective. I’ve never had a channel on any social media. But, yes, a very worthy topic of discussion.

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