According to what emerged in the investigation of the Facebook Papers, in 2019, the researchers of the social network started a study on one of the fundamental characteristics of the social network: the like. In this regard, it was examined what users could have done if Facebook had removed the thumbs-up icon and other reactions with mixed results. Also according to the study, Facebook would have been well aware of the toxic climate that reigned on the social network, but struggled to take action in this regard.
Facebook wants to remove the likes
The search on the Like button was an example of how Facebook questioned the fundamental characteristics of social networking, an element on which its entire ecosystem is based. While the company has faced, crisis after crisis, topics such as disinformation, privacy and hate speech, a central issue in the public debate has focused on how the platform works.
Many were convinced that it was the characteristics that made Facebook great that also generated all the problems found on the social network. What the researchers found after carrying out their investigations is far from positive. Time and time again, it has been determined that people abuse key features or that those features amplify toxic behaviors.
In an internal note from August 2019, several researchers claimed that this is Facebook’s “core product mechanic”, meaning in this case that its very infrastructure has allowed disinformation and hatred to spread.
Documents include presentations, internal discussions, graphics, reminders, and presentations, but they do not indicate the actions taken by Facebook after receiving the results. In recent years, the company has tweaked some features, making it easier to hide posts and turn off group notifications to reduce the spread of misinformation. That said, the way Facebook operates – that is, through a network where information can spread quickly and where people can amass friends, followers and likes – remains essentially unchanged.
At the moment it appears that the company is evaluating an alternative to the like button, but the information about it is still very smoky.