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Facebook’s Stable Network

This article on the new Facebook really got me thinking.

The new Facebook essentially allows users to create their own verb substitutes for “liking”. For example, a post could read, “Bob is reading The Fellowship of the Ring” or “Sue is eating Lasagna”. This makes a lot of sense. But some words are expressly prohibited. The most important is disliking, somewhat ironic coming from a company known for it’s “Like” thumbs up button.

Why would Facebook be so against disliking? It makes sense to dislike something. If I saw a movie I like, I can like it on Facebook. If I didn’t like it, however, I cannot publicly dislike it.

One only has to glimpse at any random page in Facebook to realize that the entire thing is plastered with ads. Even on other sites, it has become the norm to see the phrase “Click here to like us on Facebook!” What Facebook makes millions doing is creating a network and then using it to sell ad space. The bigger and more developed the network is, the more ads it can sell.

The like button (and absense of a dislike button) fosters this. If entities, be they people, companies, or even things are the nodes, the like button is used to establish and strengthen edges. If I find that I like the same things as someone else, our edge just became stronger. Another way the like button helps is opinions are always positive, or non existent. If I post anything, anything at all, it can be liked, but not disliked. This encourages sharing, usage, and overall network development.

If a dislike button existed, it would stifle posts, and divide the network. Sure, I don’t have to be friends with someone. But if I could actively be enemies with them, because of stability, it would cause the network to become less stable. Pressure would be put on people to pick friends more carefully. And if one’s posts could be disliked, maybe someone wouldn’t post something they would otherwise.

From another viewpoint, if a vendor has a Facebook page with 100,000 likes, one might take that as a vote of confidence and buy from them. If that page had 100,000 likes and 10,000,000 dislikes, well, no one would buy from them. If that vendor was a seller node, and Facebook users were buyer nodes, the addition of the negative edges would strip the seller of a lot of power compared to if there were fewer, only positive edges.

Facebook is in the business of “like” because when everyone likes each other a network can grow much larger than if you allowed people to dislike things.


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