Facebook is testing a "downvote" button, effectively bringing in a form of the "dislike" option which its users have been requesting for years.
The company has denied that this is a dislike button as a matter of course – and it won’t work as the like button does, which signals publicly that users approve of a post.
Instead, the button offers users a direct route to communicate with Facebook about the materials that appear in their news feed.
In a statement, Facebook stresses: We are not testing a dislike button. We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts.
This is running for a small set of people in the US only.
Users who downvote a comment will find that it is then hidden from them, and they receive additional details regarding how they could report this to Facebook.
Options including offensive, misleading, and off topic are designed to assist Facebook’s in moderating content.
The test is reportedly only running for 5% of Android users in the US, and while there are no plans to expand it further, it may eventually become a part of Facebook’s commenting furniture.
Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg previously dismissed the creation of a dislike button, stating: We don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts.
That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create.
The move comes as Facebook announces its intention to survey users to identify high quality news in a bid to tackle fake news and encourage more of what it calls meaningful interactions.
Representatives of the company were grilled by MPs in Washington DC on Thursday over whether they were doing enough to protect users from fake news.
In January, Mark Zuckerberg said that video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years meaning there is more public content than posts from your friends and family.
That has shifted the balance away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.
Mr Zuckerberg said the company had examined academic research on social media. He said it showed that when sites such as Facebook were used to connect with people we care about, they can improve well-being.
We can feel more connected and less lonely, he said, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health.