Does Facebook lose money from people’s dislikes?

Why are social media networks avoiding ‘Dislikes’?

The Facebook product design director Geoff Teahan explained in a blog post, the reasons why they’re not developing a dislike button:

“We first needed to consider how many different reactions we should include. This might seem like a pretty straightforward task: Just slap a thumbs down next to the Like button and ship it. It’s not nearly that simple though. People need a much higher degree of sophistication and richness in what choices we provide for their communications. Binary ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ doesn’t properly reflect how we react to the vast array of things we encounter in our real lives.”

From a business perspective, there are some other important reasons than what Mr. Geoff Teahan has said above, that would discourage Facebook from adding a “Dislike” button to their platform.

As a Facebook page owner, I would not want any kind of a negative-driven influence on my page or content, especially when there is a chance that it goes viral. Facebook must look after their corporate users (advertisers) as they do to their individual users.

Let us take an example, where a single Facbeook post, generated a reach of 2.7K. This reach was achieved with the aid of the Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Dislike’ feature. If 20% of those reached came through the ‘Dislike’ feature, then that would equate to 330 people reached through a negative interaction. See below:

While the recent ‘Reactions’ that Facebook rolled out include the angry and sad emotions, they do not express a “dislike”. I believe that they played it safe, by urging people to use different emotions that would likely lead to more engagement without them being overtly negative.

It can be argued that Facebook corporate users could benefit immensely from the ‘Dislike’ metric in terms of analysis and evaluation of their marketing campaigns. It is important to know what their target audience really think and feel about their products/services, however, it is a two edged sword, as the metric can also be quite dangerous to them.

One way for Facebook to offer full insights to their clients is to provide an alternative; the ‘Negative Feedback’ metric. This can be obtained from negative actions taken by users (that do not generate feed), such as hiding a page’s post(s), reporting spam or un-following a page (Unlike).

This makes it categorically incompatible to compare the “Negative Feedback” and the “Likes” metrics. One is a direct like, and the other is an indirect dislike. One generates feeds, while the other does not.

This avoidance of the ‘Dislike’ metric seems to be a common pattern among major social media networks. The only exception to this is YouTube. However, the content mix on YouTube is fundamentally different form that on Facebook. Video content creators are the ones subject to the ‘Dislikes’, while advertisers aren’t impacted in the same way. In this regard, YouTube users experience the exception of getting the ‘Dislike’ metric. However, the feature does not generate feed, as is the case with most other social media networks.


Senior Media Analyst @ Mediastow. Over 5 years experience as Senior Media Analyst. In charge of a team of researchers and analysts, that caters to multi national corporations and government entities, by providing media insights & analysis.
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