Facebook Making Another Big Change to Your News Feed

Facebook users will see a big change on their news feeds in the near future. The social network platform confirmed that it is testing out a "downvote" reaction in order to promote meaningful interaction between users.

By letting Facebook users downvote inappropriate comments, those comments will be hidden and provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil or misleading, TechCrunch reports.

Facebook is testing the downvote on a limited set of public Page comment reels, it confirmed to TechCrunch.

"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 U.S. only."

When clicked, the downvote button hides a comment and gives users additional reporting options like "offensive," "misleading" and "off topic." The new feature could help Facebook decipher if a comment is a form of "fake news," objectionable or purely irrelevant.

So when you "downvote" someone's comment, will that person be notified? It's looking like no, so far.

Not only do downvote buttons only appear on public Page posts (not on posts by Groups, public figures or users), but Facebook also says there will be no publicly visible count of downvotes.

The downvote experiment is reportedly a short-term test that doesn't affect the ranking of the comment, post or Page; it is simply a way to give feedback to Facebook, not the commenter. It's running for 5% of Android users in the U.S. with language set to English.

The downvote button may sound like a "dislike" button, but Facebook has been adamantly against installing a dislike button for years. Back in 2015, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained why the company was against it in a Q&A session.

"We didn't want to just build a Dislike button because 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," he said.

Instead, Facebook built the Reactions bar that you've likely noticed, which lets you respond to posts with comments like love, wow, haha, sad or angry emoji.

Some Twitter users pointed out that the downvote button is similar to Reddit's, although Reddit's downvote actually does affect the public ranking of the comment.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian joked that Facebook's latest development is the "sincerest form of flattery."

The downvote development comes a few weeks after Zuckerberg promised Facebook users they'd be seeing changes in how their news feed prioritizes posts.

In the fourth quarter earning meeting, Zuckerberg said a "series" of changes would cut down on what he considered to be "passive experiences" like watching viral videos, and rather encourage interaction with Facebook friends.

"When you see a photo from a friend in News Feed, that's not just content that makes you smile or laugh," Zuckerberg said. "It's an opportunity to connect with that friend, to reach out to them and remind them that you care about each other. That connection is deeply important to us as people."

In a press release earlier in January, Zuckerberg said the social network is aiming to get to its roots of interaction with friends and family rather than a delivery service for news.

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"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us," Zuckerberg wrote. "That's why we've always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness. But recently we've gotten feedback from our community that public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media -- is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other."

His original statement caused Facebook's stock to drop 4% that following day, and the company could lose up to $23 billion if investors remain unsure of the companies new direction.