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Facebook Rolling Out Reddit-Style Downvote Button To More Users: Pros And Cons

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Facebook lends users a better way to communicate with a new and experimental downvote button that’s similar to Reddit. Perhaps it’s too optimistic that people will use it properly.   ( Diptendu Dutta | AFP/Getty Images )

This past February, Tech Times reported that Facebook had begun testing a downvote button within the comments section, which, if widely applied, would make the social network highly similar to Reddit, which currently employs an upvote/downvote system.

Now, it seems Facebook is beginning to introduce the new system to more people. Several users took to Twitter to report that they've started seeing that upvote/downvote button in Facebook posts, signified by an up and down arrow symbol, respectively.

Facebook Rolls Out Downvote Button To More Users

A downvote button appears to be the newest extension to "reactions," which themselves are ways of making more articulate expressions instead of just "liking" a post or a comment, but an upvote/downvote system would be a far more radical addition to Facebook, simply for the fact that it invites a voting system that may or may not yield healthy discussion.

Why This Might Not Be Good

As it is, Facebook has already become a venue where toxic communication can occur, but the ability to downvote and upvote posts can be exploited to introduce even more toxicity. For instance, there's a common phenomenon on Reddit where people mass downvote posts. Sometimes this can be good, like that time when a lot of users criticized Electronic Arts's statement about microtransactions on Star Wars: Battlefront II. There's no stopping people from, say, downvoting a post simply because they don't agree with it, regardless whether the post has actual merit or not.

Facebook hopes that with a downvote button, users can flag "bad comments," which the company defines as a post with "bad intentions or is disrespectful." It isn't, Facebook wants to stress, a dislike button, but it most likely will be used that way no matter how Facebook advocates against it.

How Upvotes And Downvotes Work

Say, for example, that a post gets a lot of downvotes simply because its content is disagreeable to a lot of people, regardless if it introduces great points for debate or discussion. Much of the mechanisms behind Facebook's downvote system remains unclear, but if it's similar to Reddit — where downvoted posts get buried under oblivion, hidden from view unless users really dig them up — then one must question how that's better than any other system in terms of encouraging healthy discussion.

It has its ups, though. On Reddit, the top comments — ones with the most upvotes — are usually helpful, humorous, relevant, and follow the site's rules. It's safe to say this is what Facebook hopes to emulate, and time will tell whether it will achieve that.

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