“Changing the button is like Coca-Cola messing with its secret recipe. Cox had tried to battle the like button a few times before, but no idea was good enough to qualify for public testing. “This was a feature that was right in the heart of the way you use Facebook, so it needed to be executed really well in order to not detract and clutter up the experience,” he says. “All of the other attempts had failed.” The obvious alternative, a “dislike” button, had been rejected on the grounds that it would sow too much negativity.”
This is a huge change for the network, and will elicit a number of (fascinating) response types from love to hate judging from previous changes Facebook has made to its privacy policies and Newsfeed over the years… it’ll sort itself out after a few months but expect to see and hear lots in the media about this change!
Similarly, there was a loud outcry when Twitter switched from “stars” to “hearts” to symbolize “favoriting” tweets on its network back in November. Even the ease of “liking” something on Instagram has been a major cause of its success (especially with younger demographics).
So, social feedback on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can be seen as a major component of why people use them to post personal thoughts, pictures, or updates. Skinner boxes are alive and well, so we’ll see how Facebook handles the transition in the coming months.
Seriously, go listen to the first few minutes of this This American Life episode if you’re a doubter.