The “Like” button dissonance

By | May 8, 2010

facebook_like_buttonThe recent change of privacy controls on Facebook and the introduction of a global “Like” button are steering a lot of discussion all over the internet.  My friend Lokman has already left Facebook all together and keep hearing about “Leave Facebook Day” planned for May 21.

Many people, including those in major outlets are voicing their criticism of the erosion of privacy and introduction of the inverse Beakon.  For example, the Washington Post ran a number of articles on this subject and is reporting on a bill for privacy online being drafted following this outcry, ars technica writes about complains filed against Facebook at the FTC, Huffington Post posted some visualizations of how more and more of our information is exposed to more and more people on Facebook, and the Wired has recently posted a very opinionated piece from Ryan Singer criticizing Facebook’s behavior and calling for an alternative.  What I find amusing in this situation is that all these major outlets (and many others) have wholeheartedly adopted the universal “Like” feature and other Facebook gadgets.  When you come to read their articles, you are welcomed by familiar faces of your friends through some Facebook social feature.

To me it creates a dissonance.

I realize that in many cases these are journalists reporting on a piece of technology-related news and I realize that the opinions of the columnists belong to them and not necessarily to the news outlet. I also realize that the news outlets are involved in financial survival battle and using Facebook advertising and social platform may be an opportunity.  I even appreciate the fact these discussions are taking place and that the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and  even Facebook itself are hosting this debate.  Nevertheless, when I see that Ryan Singer’s super critical piece has two “Like” buttons and almost 3500 likes on Facebook, I understand why over at Facebook they feel so confident and comfortable messing with the privacy of their users.

And what do you think?

7 thoughts on “The “Like” button dissonance

  1. lisa

    It’s odd but, despite being aware of the like button, I’ve yet to see an actual like button on any of the websites I read, perhaps just US news sites and blogs being the fastest to take up the new opportunity, where I don’t read any of those you mentioned.

    I read another criticism article on Wired yesterday but didn’t notice a like button 🙂

    One possible explanation for the dissonance is that the two seemingly-conflicting stances of these websites can serve the same purpose. Ultimately, most of those major outlets you mention want to use a platform like Facebook Likes to their advantage, but it will only truly work if Facebook responds to pressure and Facebook users don’t desert in droves.

    At the personal level, May 21st, which I also didn’t hear about til now, sounds tempting!

    1. Dima Post author

      I think I’ve read somewhere that 50 out of the 100 most visited sites have added the new “Like” button. But I would not be surprised that more that 50 of the top 100 are actually US sites.

      I think you explanation makes sense and there is probably even more to this (those outlets have to maintain journalistic integrity as well). But I wonder if you really think people will desert Facebook in droves without a viable alternative.

      And please let me know if you choose to act on May 21st 🙂

  2. Nadya

    I missed everything again. What’s the global “like” button? and what are the changes in privacy control? Where can I read about this?

    1. Dima Post author

      Try to check out some of the links in the post. You will see that all those websites have a way of “liking” an article on Facebook right there on their website. As to privacy, check out what your info page on Facebook look like now. Many thing have became public + they share your public information with partner websites (so that those can personlize your experience and the ads). The Wired piece I think summarizes everything in the best way.

  3. Netuser

    I have not been testing things and reading terms and I am not happy with what I find. The LIKE button seems to be a page collector for NETWORK SHARING, and that the terms of Facebook then sets in, that they then in a way OWN the pages, the rights to use and let use… like the SHARE BUTTON… I found out that we can’t use the abuse option anymore if we add things to FB if we have the LIKE button on our pages. So anyone who pushes the button have free use of it’s contents. As we agreed to the terms of Facebook. Us who push the button can also get in trouble as we agree to all it’s contents even though we might only wanted to share the page so others could find it and read. If I find a page, that doesn’t mean that I agree with things ?? I surely don’t want to use the LIKE button on my pages. And the old way of sharing with grabbing a link from the browser is not that hard for me to do, and at least I didn’t sign anything by the old method. I can see more firms taking the LIKE button of their pages again because of the copyrigths. Many have asked Mark Zuckerberg what the LIKE button is. Is it compbined with Rating/Share/LIKE ? and ALL-IN-ONE ? .. no answers for it so far ???? and why is that then ?

  4. Dima Post author

    I am not sure I 100% follow your argument, but I hear your critical sentiment towards the “Like” button. In Facebook’s defense, you can still post links to articles without liking them and most (all?) of the websites I’ve mentioned in this post still have an option of sharing on Facebook, instead of liking an item (and it’s been almost a year since the original post).

  5. Netuser

    If you have a LIKE button on your page… you can’t do anything. There is an option on FaceBook that you can push the ABUSE link… but that is gone if you have the LIKE button on your pages, and that means.. you lost your rights in a way, and I surely dont like that.
    I have been on a webpage for about 3 years, and we have profil pages. One morning found that all our pages have been added a LIKE button (and our pages are kind of “privat” as we share things in comments ). I then asked around and got hold of a lawyer and I tested things out and searched the net, only to find that all who have this LIKE button on their pages actually now must have given the IP copyright over to Facebook as it does exatcly the same as the SHARE the terms of FB follow. That means that the NETWORK SHARING of the pages now is a direct connection to Facebook and we never been told. They just put it on our pages and we even pay for the page we are on. I can find the things and pages that have been pushed out by the LIKE button – it’s easy even in a blind test – and Mark Zuckerberg will not answer the question towards the subject… so we are left in the dark in a way.. but EVERYTHING is pointing at the Share Button and an agreement – some firms are now taking the LIKE button OFF again -who can blame them-


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