The Like button is synonymous with Facebook Kim Kulish/Corbis
Don’t like something on Facebook? Soon, there will be a button for that.
The company is planning to begin testing a new button that will expand the range of emotions users can express other than merely “liking” things.
“Not every moment is a good moment,” said Facebook’s cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a Q&A session at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. He said that he realized people may not want to “like” a current event like the refugee crisis or a family member passing away. But, he also didn’t want users to merely vote up or down on people’s posts.
Ultimately, he said he hopes to offer users a more expanded way to share their emotional reactions. “It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that’s that simple,” he said.
The move marks a key change for the world’s largest social network, which counted more than a billion people using its service last month, whose “like” button has become so synonymous with its service that it’s the logo that greets visitors to its California headquarters. Some users have become frustrated though that the only button Facebook offers is a thumbs-up, and the opportunity to leave a comment. Within an hour of announcing Facebook is testing a dislike button, Zuckerberg’s video had garnered more than 1,200 “likes.”
Zuckerberg has been holding town-hall style ask-me-anything sessions about once a month since November, discussing technology trends, such as Internet traffic rules, free speech and social issues, such as terrorism. He’s planning to hold another discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month, covering social and economic challenges, among other issues.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, held a town-hall session at the company’s HQ Tuesday. Facebook
Another issue Zuckerberg talked about was the future of technology, particularly artificial intelligence. Some tech leaders have begun to speak out about the technology, particularly its danger. Zuckerberg said he’s not as concerned, in part because the technology is still so simple.
But, he said, AI has the potential to save lives, such as with self-driving cars, or help diagnose and treat disease.
“All new technology has the ability to do good and bad,” he said. “I’m fundamentally optimistic about human nature and our ability to do good.”
He gave a similar response to one person’s question about the world he envisions for his coming daughter. He said spoke about freedom of speech, freedom from racism and a world without disease or war. “We can probably get there in our children’s lifetime,” he said.
Facebook will likely have a part to play in that new world, he said. One way is through virtual reality, and the startup Oculus VR which his company acquired last year for $2 billion. Today, users can already strap on a headset and transport themselves to other places, like a Spanish villa or one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
In the mean time, people can share information through Facebook, such as photos from the refugee crisis in Europe. Zuckerberg said that although those types of items sometimes rile emotions and upset users, they’re important to see.
He also said Facebook is working with educators and local leaders around its offices in the San Francisco Bay Area to help bring new technologies to schools, and potentially even affordable housing as well. “To be a responsible member of the community, we need to contribute to the housing stock,” he said. “Over next decade, expect more.”
As in previous question-and-answer sessions, Zuckerberg also shared some insights about himself and the way he works. He said his favorite emoji is the cactus sticker set developed for Facebook, adding that he’s used a picture of a cactus eating food in response to a message from his wife saying she was hungry.
He also said that although he wears roughly the same clothes every day, including a grey t-shirt, he wears more colorful items on the weekends.
Near the end of his talk, Zuckerberg said he doesn’t worry about whether Facebook will last forever. “Everything comes to an end,” he said, adding that he’s often baffled by people who try to build companies that “lives forever.”
He’ll be happy if Facebook succeeds in its goals, which are to connect everyone in the world and give them tools to communicate. “It’ll take 20-30 years,” he said. “Then I don’t know what’s next.”