A Facebook engineer has revealed that the company has developed a 'sympathise' button - for those situations where a 'like' just doesn't seem appropriate.
Most of us have found ourselves wanting to show support for a friend's post, but felt unable to hit 'like' when it's a question of a broken relationship or dead cat.
The new button would come into play as part of a feature allowing people to tag their posts with an emotion; 'likes' would then automatically be changed to something more appropriate, with the count showing up in the same way as it does now.
The button was created as part of a 'hackathon' some time ago; and other features of the social network - such as the 'like' button itself - have emerged from similar hackathons in the past. However, says software engineer Dan Muriello, in a video of the event, "We made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product - yet."
There are at least two good reasons not to introduce such a button. First, it would give ammunition to those who see the social media site as encouraging facile conversation. Second, it probably would mean fewer genuinely sympathetic written responses - and, for Facebook, posts mean advertising.
Facebook has received repeated calls to introduce a 'dislike' button, but has steadfastly resisted, on the grounds that it could facilitate bullying. The company's relationship with its advertisers might have something to do with that too.
Two years ago, though, a scam started sweeping the internet, offering a so-called 'Enable Dislike Button'. The scam appeared to be aimed at enticing users into taking part in an online survey - and allowed its creators to install malicious software on victims' PCs.