Netizens fear troll exploitation of Facebook's 'downvote' button
MANILA, Philippines – Netizens have expressed concern over the planned "downvote" button in the comments section of Facebook, fearing it may be exploited by trolls and bots, and cause deeper political divisions.
Facebook confirmed to tech news website TechCrunch on Thursday, February 8, that it is testing a "downvote" button in the comments section.
In its current form, the "downvote" button would let users hide comments they deem inappropriate and tag it as either "Offensive", "Misleading" or "Off Topic."
Facebook said, however, that its tests are currently running "for a small set of people in the US only" and on a limited number of public pages.
A Twitter user who has experienced Facebook's in-testing tool shared what the button looks like:
What do netizens think of Facebook's plan to include this "downvote" button?
For this feature to be effective, user Ramon Bello suggested that Facebook "weed out" online trolls first. "Without that, the downvote means nothing."
Roi Marc Teodoro cited the Philippines' case, saying that dozens of fake accounts "can monopolize this downvote button controlling the social media discussions online."
"This group can even mass report pages/people in [Facebook] to silence those who are against the government," he added. (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)
Jose Ramon Albert, former National Statistical Coordination Board secretary general, suggested in a Facebook post that there should also be "a better way of reporting fake news," which has caused problems online – at times, even offline. (WATCH: 'Fake news' and the dilemma it has created)
Another user said: "The Russian bots are going to abuse the **** out of this." Russian hackers have been accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, which was won by Donald Trump.
Trump's campaign and its reported collusion with Russia is at the center of an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Some netizens said the "downvote" button would also deepen political divisions by enhancing "echo chambers" or reading only the views that a reader agrees with.
"Down voting gives implicit power to the fastest and most frequent viewers, increasing the incentive to exploit automated accounts or shut down opposing views," added user Duncan McKinnon.
But there were also some commenters who argued that netizens' freedom of speech online would remain intact.
"You wanna say something s*****? That's fine. It's your right. But it's everyone else's right to send your s***** comment plummeting to the bottom of the comments section, where it belongs," said user Clayton Wieben.
In another comment, Wieben added the planned feature would prevent "worst" comments from rising to the top of the list "just because they've had the most engagement, even if it's all negative."
For his part, user Dustin Hensley said in a post that the feature would be "good for people."
"It looks like it's not just a way to publicly say, 'I dislike this,' but rather to tell the platform's algorithm that you don't want to see more things like this," he said.
Meanwhile, some pointed out that Reddit already has a "downvote" button.
One user even said that it would just function like Facebook's "hide" option, and it's only "going to become more prominent" through a new button. – Rappler.com