What does “Like” mean on Social Media?       

A significant majority of us have at least one social media account. More so, the generation Y/Z (there’s debate on which letter they belong to), who have been born in a world where smartphones are somewhat of a necessity.

Social media isn’t just a platform to interact and engage with our friends, followers or connections. Sometimes, it acts as a tool that allows us to get away from our present reality. Whether you are looking for some laughter when the day becomes unbearable, or motivation to keep going.

However, it often tends to lead us to a depressive state, when you start comparing your life with those of others. You don’t have to watch Black Mirror to understand this. Now, that’s not the topic of discussion today.

One thing that puzzles me on social media as I scroll down my feed is the meaning of the “Like” button. Facebook introduced the Like feature in 2009. Lucky for me, I hadn’t joined the platform before that time. Therefore, I can’t make comments on what it was like during the times before the Like feature.

However, since it’s inception, this feature has sparked controversies on its meaning in different parts of the world. A man in Switzerland was fined for liking posts by a third party. In this case, the court stated that he endorsed the content by liking it, and made it his own.

His actions endorsed and caused the further distribution of the libellous comments was the basis for the court’s decision.

 

In the US, a “like” is taken as a literal expression of a person liking something. It is considered as speech. It’s probably one of the reasons why in 2015 they introduced a variety of reactions to a post, e.g. sad, angry, love.

 

According to Facebook, a Like is somewhat of an endorsement. You show people that you enjoy the post. In addition to this, it shows that the content needs to be amplified.

 

  • I get it when someone Likes comical content.

 

  • Shows support to a clarion call.

 

  • Motivates someone to keep doing what they do

 

  • Or, endorses worthy or beautiful pieces.

 

However, the confusion comes in when someone clicks like on a material that doesn’t make sense. It happened on LinkedIn; someone posted a report that showed Kenya in a negative light. We were among the top twenty countries according to the world FSI (Fragile State Index) rankings.

It is a list that assesses the vulnerability of a state to collapse or conflict, and we were in the Alert category.

To my surprise, many people were liking the content and leaving no comments. I had to ask myself does it mean that we are glad to be among the world’s leading nations that are susceptible to collapse? It’s no fete for celebration, but maybe to them, it was.

Perhaps, they were angered, and the only reaction to the post was to like it. It could also be that the people were showing gratitude to the person who shared the report, as it was something we needed to know. Whatever their reasons for liking, I will never know.

Maybe if other social media platforms could borrow a leaf from Facebook and allow for the use of different reactions to a status update; we wouldn’t have this confusion. Though we need to think carefully before asking for a Dislike button.

For now, we still have to ponder over what a person means when they like a post.

So, what do you convey, by Liking a Post? For marketers, yours is straightforward; whatever the reaction, it all translates to moving users with your content. What about you as an individual?

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