Facebook experiments with ‘Sympathize' button for less happy ‘Likes'

Most Facebook users will, at some point, have faced the situation shown in the Family Guy clip above: a friend posts something on the site which you want to acknowledge, but the tone of their status makes a ‘Like’ sound completely inappropriate. Let’s face it - expressing sympathy for bad news with a ‘Like’ can make you sound a little insensitive.

It seems that Facebook has been playing around with a possible solution to this as The Huffington Post reports, although the company isn't planning to introduce it just yet.

Facebook engineer Dan Muriello revealed that one of its hackathons "a little while back" yielded a creative approach to solving this social networking faux pas. In the experiment, whenever a user chose to attach a negative emotion to a post from Facebook’s selection – which includes things like “feeling sad” – the ‘Like’ button that would ordinarily be displayed with that status update would instead transform into a ‘Sympathize’ button.

According to Muriello, the idea received positive feedback from those within the company who tried it out. “It would be ‘five people sympathize with this’ instead of ‘five people like this,’” he explained, “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.”

As HuffPo notes, the ‘Like’ button itself was the product of Facebook hackathon experimentation, so you never know - we may yet see the ‘Sympathize’ button become part of the Facebook experience in time. 

Source: The Huffington Post

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35 Comments

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Wouldn't a "sorry for your loss" suffice?
You could say it to the person or just type a message.

Why do things like this need to be in button form?
I understand the like button as it is a way to collect/share things you like.

What if the post read “not feeling sad at all” - but it picked up the words "feeling sad" and thought it was a negative emotion post? Or sometimes people are just being sarcastic?

I don't think it'll work too well as it'll be really difficult for Facebook to accurately determine whether a post is "negative" or not.

Facebook status updates offer a menu in which users can choose from a predefined list of 'feelings' and activities. So, for example you can select "Feeling > Sad", "Feeling > Bad", "Feeling > Lonely" etc, and these emotions will be appended to the status update.

It would be simple for these emotional presets to be defined as 'positive' or 'negative'.

There are also similar predefined options for things like 'Reading', 'Watching', Travelling To' in addition to those for emotions.

Torolol said,
they should've includes the "Ha HA" button

Bonus points if you can see and hear Nelson Muntz on clicking it.

Or they're making it so people can acknowledge a post without liking it. I thought that was pretty clear, but FB haters will still hate I guess.

Urg, if only there were some way to use, I don't know, sounds, or sounds translated into some sort of small pictures for us to acknowledge things. Maybe someday in the far, far future Facebook will have this technology.

Calling someone about something is the complete opposite reason why people use social networking. So given these people wish to respond on Facebook, where that person has obviously put it up, now they will be able to.

It's really not that hard to understand.