You could soon be able to "downvote" comments on Facebook if a new feature, currently being tested in the US, is rolled out to all users.
The social media giant confirmed to TechCrunch that a small number of people – 5% of Android users in the US with their language set to English – were testing the feature, which allows users to hide comments and provide feedback on them.
Once a comment is hidden, users have the option to flag whether the comment is "offensive", "misleading" or "off-topic", but they can't make the comment invisible to other users or impact the ranking of the comment, post or page in the newsfeed.
Users can already hide comments on Facebook by selecting the dropdown arrow and selecting "Hide", but the new "downvote" tool makes it easier to do so.
Facebook denied that the "downvote" option was the same as a "dislike" button, which many people have been lobbying the site to introduce for years. Instead, a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch: "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 US only.”
The commenters themselves won't receive feedback and other users' won't be able to see how many downvotes a comment had garnered. Instead, the feedback will only be used by Facebook and could, in theory, be used to work out if something is "fake news," TechCrunch reported.
Critics believe the "downvote" tool would be a way for Facebook to ensure it is considered a platform rather than a publisher. "It has become very clear that Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want Facebook to have the responsibility of identifying what is offensive or misleading - and what is not - because that would put him into the position of being a publisher rather than a platform," Martin Garner, tech analyst at CCS Insight, told BBC News.
"He doesn't want to do that as it takes the business in a different direction - so he is leaning on the community to do it."
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