MENLO PARK, Calif.—Like it or hate it, half-baked, insensitive, crackpot, or otherwise deplorable posts are commonplace on Facebook. While these updates speak volumes about the people who post them, developers at the social network have been trying to put their finger on a way for friends to express their disapproval with a single click.
After experimenting with a “sympathize” button that would go hand in hand with more somber updates for which users selected a negative emotion like “sad” or “depressed,” Facebook engineers began toying with the idea of a “schmuck” button.
Presented at Facebook’s Compassion Research Day, the button was described as a “lighthearted way to tell your friends that they’re complete jackasses without launching never-ending threads of increasingly nasty comments.”
Software engineer Phil Brainard went on to discuss his inspiration for the latest development. “I have this cousin, Charlie. He’s always the life of the party, but when he posted a drunken selfie of him peeing into my Boba Fett collectible mug, I knew I had to find a way to respond that told him I love him, but I’d also love to smack him over the head right now.”
While the icon associated with the “schmuck” button has yet to be finalized, leaked documents indicate that Facebook’s designers have been considering cartoon depictions of either an extended middle finger or phallus.
While the notion of a “schmuck” button received a thumbs-up from fellow Facebookers, its launch on the site remains uncertain.
What the company has made clear is that a “dislike” button is anything but close at hand. Product engineer Bob Baldwin nixed the possibility earlier this year during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” discussion.
“Actions on Facebook tend to focus on positive social interactions,” said Baldwin. “A ‘dislike’ button is just a dumb idea that doesn’t fit our business model. I only wish there were some way to make the company’s complete lack of interest in this feature evident to everyone out there.”
Mandy Patinker, leader of the “DISLIKE button” community on Facebook—itself backed by nearly 54,000 likes—minced no words in describing the executives who refuse to add the buttons immediately. “They’re complete schmucks.”