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If Facebook had a Yawn Button

by Chris Smith

At the moment Facebook has 3 ways you can interact with posts: Like, Comment and Share. All three of these do slightly different things but they all contribute towards a post’s popularity score, which determines how likely it is to appear in people’s news streams. It makes a lot of sense for users to be shown content that people like or interact with (comments could be negative) rather than content people are indifferent to. In short, it’s a system designed to reward and promote interesting content.

Facebook is cleverer than this. It records which other users you interact with most and gives their future posts priority in your stream so you see more from those people you have historically found interesting. Good job Facebook barons!

I think we need the opposite, a way of penalising and demoting the content that we find boring. The way I imagine it working is having a Yawn link with the other options. The main difference with this one is that it would have to be anonymous. We don’t want people to be offended, cause tension or break up friendships. It’s also not intended as a way of judging the quality of other people’s content - what one person finds interesting might be boring to someone else or maybe it’s an in-joke that they just don’t get. It’s about filtering the right content for the right people.

The Problem

My issue with Facebook right now is that everyone just broadcasts everything to everyone, nothing is targeted. When you write a post you have the option to decide who sees it. You can select individuals, exclude individuals or set up your friends in groups and choose which see it and which don’t. But nobody does. It’s very odd. Think of the last thing you posted on Facebook. Imagine taking that content and putting it into an email and sending it to everyone in your address book. You wouldn't. I'm sure even though most outgoing people would maybe untick one or two contacts. And this all means that we end up reading lots of content that really isn't ever meant for us. And the whole Facebook experience becomes irrelevant and ultimately boring.

The Solution

If I post something and it gets 1 Like but 20 Yawns it’ll make me think twice about posting something like that again. But I thought everyone was into learning JavaScript frameworks? I guess you’re all just weirdos. :) What it will do is, the next time I'm enthusiastic about some nerdy tech thing, it’ll make me think about who might be interested and I'll share it just with them. In this particular case, there’s a fair chance it’ll be nobody but that’s fine.