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Why I dislike the Like Button

Posted by on 10/07/2011


Over the past 2 years in the web world, I’ve been introduced to a number of social sharing tools during the Social Media explosion. They started off as simple links and images, then evolved into the creation of groups and Pages, and finally adding a more interactivity with counter options thanks to Javascript, JSON and XML.

One of the particularly popular tools is the Facebook Like button, which is part of the whole genre of “liking” stuff across the web. While the concept may sound interesting, I think Facebook hasn’t designed the Like button to truly help webmasters.


After doing a number of trial and error experiments, I’ve come to realize that “Liked” or “Recommended” stories may not get as much visibility on everyone’s feed. I found out that a story may show up on one person’s news feed, while it may be hidden on others. I am not too sure as to why this happens, but it definitely isn’t the best idea in my opinion. Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed less stories being posted to my news feed, even though I know my friends have been “liking” them just as consistently as they would have shared them in the past.

Another issue lies in the proper implementation of the Like button. If the proper OpenGraph protocols are not coded into the HTML, then most likely a “liked” post on a site will appear just as a text link, however a shared post would still show an image, a snippet of the content and a title, because it pulls as much data as possible to make a decent post. Shared posts have always been clearly visible unless you intentionally block a person from your feed, which means if you share something, it is most likely to be seen by pretty much all your friends, which is why I always share posts rather than just liking or recommending them. I’ve also re-implemented Share buttons with counters, so users have that privilege versus just liking posts.

Misleading Statistics

One of the biggest things webmasters look for is how many times their posts are shared or liked. In the calculation of the final share/like/recommend count, Facebook takes into consideration how many times a post was shared, liked and commented on across the FB hemisphere. The total is then outputted through your button. Now let’s say your post gets shared or liked once on someone’s profile and commented on 999 times by 2 people, the button counter will display 1000 (1 share + 999 comments). A worst case traffic situation could be receiving hits by the sharer and the other commenter, which only counts for 2 hits. However, 1000 shares could give the false impression that a story has gone viral and is popular across many profiles.

Faulty Button

The JavaScript SDK/XFBML code used to implement the buttons (to be more interactive that iframes) is a bit tricky to set up. For starters, you must set up as many OpenGraph protocols as possible so liked content comes out in a post format rather than just a lame old link. Secondly, a bit of Javascript must be added to the bottom of webpages to allow for asynchronous loading (which is a good idea), but the recommended code seems to have its share of problems and I’ve ended up modifying my code to bypass those problems (e.g. XD Fragments). Recently another issue has arisen in the form of malfunctioning buttons, and while I thought it was specific to my site, it seems to have been occurring across the web on even the popular sites like TheNextWeb, SlashGear, Gizmodo and ArsTechnica.

Imagine having a faulty button on a big traffic day, imagine the thousands of hits coming in but having a button that can’t record how many times the post was liked. It could mean the difference between your post dying or being a viral success.

In general, I have lost faith in the Like button and have re-introduced to good ole’ share button (in a customized format though) so users can have the option of liking or sharing. Already, I am seeing posts having a much higher share count than like count, so it makes me wonder if Facebook decided to kill a good thing or if they still have plans to better improve the Liking process.


  • Martinwill2

    Lots of people would also like to have a “Dislike” button to indicate they disapprove content (e.g. when Casey got off with a “Not Guilty” verdict.)  FB so far hasn’t managed to make one of those, but its just as necessary as a “Like” button as a measure of user interaction with posted content.

  • Bradley Wint

    I think in their effort to go social would be hindered with a dislike button. Imagine me disliking all your content. You might eventually delete me out of frustration. It doesn’t help us to be social, so I see why it’s not included.

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