Respect Facebook’s friendly atmosphere
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 11:04
As college students in the 21st century, we are fixated on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Myspace—the list goes on. We try to post, upload and tweet as much of our lives as humanly possible.
We can create gatherings, movements, events and social justice causes all by making a profile page. Facebook makes it easy for us to show our support for a certain profile or page.
A simple click of the “like” button and your opinion is expressed.
Dean Terry, the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, feels that only half of his opinions are properly expressed on Facebook—more specifically, only the opinions of those he agrees with.
Therefore, Terry has created a Facebook application called EnemyGraph that allows you to declare people, ideas or pages as “enemies”.
In his explanation of the app, Terry says, “It’s social media blasphemy, in that we’re suggesting that you share differences you have with people and share things that you don’t like instead of what you do like.”
Terry would have preferred to use the word “dislike,” a natural antonym for “like,” but the word is literally banned on Facebook to prevent app developers, like Terry, from creating a “dislike” button.
Facebook officials have declined to comment on the app. They have also not responded to an online petition with over three million signatures to date asking for a dislike button.
One would think that a company like Facebook, that is always updating and looking for new features to satisfy its users, would love to implement what Terry and the three million signees have been calling for, a dislike button. So what’s the holdup?
Terry and the three million signees are determined to make Facebook even more integral in their lives. They call for a way to disagree with someone or something, on a cyber platform.
However, there are many reasons Terry ignores as to why a dislike button should not be added.
These reasons are precisely why Facebook has banned the word for app developers.
Firstly, from Facebook’s perspective, it wants a friendly and open image associated with its name, for its entire success is built upon business with other people.
They want their users to be able to share and express their opinions freely.
With the EnemyGraph app, people will become more hesitant to express themselves on their profiles.
Facebook has created an environment where everyone can post freely with little to no concern about how others will react to it.
The users who download this app will become less personal and avoid revealing certain aspects of their life that they would otherwise have posted online.
For example, EnemyGraph has a list of “trending enemies.”
The top three as of last Friday were GOP candidate Rick Santorum, rock band Nickelback, and the investment firm Merrill Lynch. If someone works for Santorum’s campaign or is a fan of Nickelback’s music, he or she may be less inclined to share that piece of information on his or her profile.
The creators of this app would argue that those people don’t have to use the app because, after all, it is created by an outside party and it is not required on your profile.
This counter-argument is precisely the reason why EnemyGraph has struggled to get off the ground despite national coverage on CNN, among other media outlets. People are less likely to express themselves via posting if anyone can criticize that post with the click of a button.
Another reason why this app should not be added to Facebook is the unavoidable negative conversation that would follow. In today’s world, our in-person interactions are dwindling due to the ever-expanding cyber universe.
For most topics, stating your distaste is totally appropriate online.
However, there are sensitive topics about which this app could spark conversation. Facebook cannot form a list of controversial or potentially condescending issues that should be avoided, for those issues are subjective and relative to each individual.
Some may feel that disagreeing with their religious beliefs is inappropriate and insensitive, while others may feel that disagreeing with their sexual orientation is tasteless and disdainful.
This kind of conversation will inevitably stem from an enemy button and is not appropriate on Facebook.
With the ever-growing world of social media, we must make calculated decisions as to what belongs on our profiles and what does not.
Referring to people, places or ideas as enemies is neither in the best interest of Facebook nor Facebook users.
This is not what Facebook was created for. Rather, it’s a forum for online socializing, keeping in touch and reconnecting.
Facebook is not the ideal forum to discuss sensitive matters; rather, these topics should be discussed in-person.