Friday, January 4, 2013

The Problem With the “Like” Button

A recent article in the Register (United Kingdom) posed the following hypothetical:

“If a friend posts a newspaper article to Facebook about a government minister who’s been caught embezzling millions, does a like mean ‘I like it when government ministers embezzle millions,’ or does it mean ‘I like it when government ministers who’ve embezzled millions are exposed in newspaper articles’?

This conundrum reminded me of something I tweeted a week earlier:

Specifically, let’s say your sister’s cat just died. On Facebook, she writes, “RIP, Corey Sue (1998-2012).” How should you respond?

My two sense: When a “like” can be construed to contain opposite meanings, leave a comment. Instead of clicking, try typing. That is, scroll past the thumbs-up button and move your cursor to the field where you can more fully express yourself. A few words (“My condolences, Jen”) mean far more—to both your sister and Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm—than a facile flick of your finger.

On Twitter, you’ll often see in someone’s bio that “RTs ≠ endorsements.” This means that because you retweet something doesn’t mean you’re endorsing it. Let’s make the Facebook corollary: “likes ≠ endorsements.”