Facebook Experimenting with a ‘Sympathize’ Button

The social network has confirmed that it is considering the introduction of a ‘Sympathise’ button.

However, the possibility of introducing the “sympathize” button in the future is still not clear. Photo: Angermann/Flickr

Facebook is experimenting with a new sympathetic button to help viewers express their commiserations to sad news by replacing “Like” with a new “Sympathize” button on different occasions.

Facebook users have been asking the social media giant for years to add a “Dislike” button, as in some occasions, when someone posts about a breakup, a death or even just a bad day “Like” button seems to be awkward and inappropriate. However, Facebook may have found an alternate to the “Like” button, but not with a “Dislike” button.

One Facebook engineer devised a “sympathize” button that would accompany gloomier status updates, according to Dan Muriello, a different Facebook engineer who described the hackathon experiment at a company event Thursday. If someone selected a negative emotion like “sad” or “depressed” from Facebook’s fixed list of feelings, the “like” button would be relabeled “sympathize,” reports the Huff Post.

Muriello said that user’s notifications would also change from “Like” to “Sympathize” to notify the user how many people expressed their sadness at his/her post. According to the Facebook engineer the test even excited some of the staff, but in the end it was decided that the timing to launch the “Sympathize” button was not yet here.

“It would be, ‘five people sympathize with this,’ instead of ‘five people ‘like’ this,'” said Muriello. “Which of course a lot of people were – and still are – very excited about. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet.”

The idea of adding a new “sympathize” button emerged from hackathons, an important platform that gave birth to Facebook’s current features like Chat, “suggest a friend,” Timeline profile pages and the “like” button itself.

A Facebook spokesman called the hackathons “the foundation for great innovation and thinking about how we can better serve people around the world.”

“Some of our best ideas come from hackathons, and the many ideas that don’t get pursued often help us think differently about how we can improve our service,” the spokesman wrote in a email to The Huffington Post.

Muriello did his speaking during Facebook’s “Compassion Research Day.” The public event is a day where Facebook researchers, the University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University share findings on human behavior on Facebook.

Earlier, product engineer Bob Baldwin had said that the “dislike” button wasn’t happening any time soon. If Facebook can stick to it’s words, it’s a great decision, really. A dislike button on a social networking site that has hundreds of thousands of young users – many of them struggling with body image issues – will be a trigger for negativity.

Facebook recently announced plans to tweak its News Feed to promote “higher-quality content” to users, scanning the source of posted articles to determine their value to the individual, says the Digital Spy. Meanwhile, the company is rolling out auto-play videos to its mobile apps, and is planning to bring the feature to desktops in the future.

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