Facebook should have a Dislike button, but it would work differently from Like.
Where likes are public, a dislike would just be between you and the algorithm. It's a way of signalling that "this is something I do not want to see more of."
It's very much like Checkbox News, an idea I proposed for cable news as it makes the transition to the net. Suppose I'm watching MSNBC, as I did in April 2007, and I have heard enough about the massacre at Virginia Tech. The reports are getting too meta. I get the sense that they're mostly just filling space until the next outrage breaks. So I want to say "No more news about Virginia Tech." Uncheck the box. Or in Facebook terminology -- dislike. Same idea.
It just came up the other day. I was sick of reading about people who don't know Ben Edelman saying he should be punished for being himself. I want to signal to Facebook, please I beg you, no more of this. Hence, dislike.
Even better, if the algorithm could learn about this genre of Internet writing, shaming people who have elite jobs, for being human, and allow me to dislike the whole genre. That would be fantastic. I hope the SEO geniuses at Facebook are working on this.
BTW, sometimes the Internet is used in clever ways to disable people like Ben who are acting in ways big companies dislike (there's that word again). I am sure they employ consultants who find ways to discredit their harshest most effective critics, people like Ben (ahh you didn't know that about him did you?). Their goal: get people to stop listening to him. I'd say they achieved that pretty well. (If you believe this is not possible, you haven't been paying attention.)
Two facts that might seem unrelated at first: A. For some reason I love to watch the Knicks. B. I quit smoking in 2002, already 12 years ago. I am not going to start again. Yet they run a certain number of absolutely disgusting anti-smoking ads on each Knicks game. I try to block the screen with my iPad so I don't have to see the poor disfigured human they're putting up as an example of what smoking can do to you. That's not enough, now they have people who have lost the ability to speak, lamenting how they didn't record their real voice for their grandchildren. I want to desperately say DISLIKE! Get this bullshit off my screen. I quit smoking. I am not going to start. Maybe they should have a FUCKOFF button to express more extreme displeasure than a mere dislike.
See also: 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS.
I read today that Maureen Dowd lets the people she writes about review her column before publication. I think the NYT, who she writes for, should click Dislike on behalf of all her readers, but until they do that, I want to ask for no more articles about her or by her. As far as I'm concerned Ms Dowd does not exist. Dislike!
I love that Facebook is basically a positive space. I think this is partially due to the positiveness of the Like button, but also due to the controls it gives users to silence people who abuse the power of Internet communication. So I click Like on Dislike.