Like button

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A like button, like option, or recommend button is a feature in communication software such as social networking services, Internet forums, news websites and blogs where the user can express that he/she likes, enjoys or supports certain content. Internet services that feature like buttons usually display the quantity of users who liked each content, and may show a full or partial list of them. This is a quantitative alternative to other methods of expressing reaction to content, like writing a reply text. Some websites also include a dislike button, so the user can either vote in favour, against or neutrally. Other websites include more complex Web content voting systems, for example five stars.

Use on Facebook[edit]

The like button is a feature of social networking service Facebook, where users can like[1] content such as status updates, comments, photos, links shared by friends, and advertisements. The feature was activated February 9, 2009.[2] It is also a feature of the Facebook Platform that enables participating websites to display a button which enable sharing the site's content with friends.[3] When a user clicks the Like button, the content appears in the News Feeds of that user's friends.[4] The button also displays the number of users that liked each piece of content, and may show a full or partial list of those users. This feature may appear differently on mobile web applications. A "Like Box" also allows Facebook page owners to see how many users and which of their friends like the page.[5]

Facebook describes "liking" as a way for users to "give positive feedback and connect with things [they] care about."[6]

A lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles in 2010 claiming the Facebook should not allow minors to "like" advertising. Facebook said the suit was "completely without merit."[7]

Rembrandt Social Media has sued Facebook, claiming that the like button violates two patents granted to Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer in 1998.[8]


The Like button is one of Facebook's social plug-ins, which are for use on websites outside Facebook,[9] a feature which launched April 21, 2010, as part of Facebook's Open Graph, an interface for integrating websites with Facebook's social graph.[10][11] Speaking at Facebook's F8 developer conference on the day of the launch CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "we are building a Web where the default is social."[11][12]

Since then the feature has aroused scrutiny over privacy concerns because the social plug-ins allow Facebook to track visitors to participating sites across the web, even if those visitors do not click the Like button,[13][14] are logged out of Facebook, or are not Facebook users at all.[15] The Like button is implemented similarly to an advertising network, and as more sites participate, gives Facebook a vast amount of information about who visits which sites, and when. When loading a web page which has the Like button enabled, the user's browser connects to Facebook's servers, which record the URL being visited, and the visitor's IP address and Facebook ID (if logged in). In June 2010 Facebook said it anonymizes this information after three months, and does not sell or otherwise share that information. The ACLU of Northern California cautioned website operators to be careful about installing Like buttons because "they're potentially telling Facebook about everyone who visits their web site, every time that person visits their web site."[14]

By September of that year over 350,000 sites were using the Like button.[16]

In August 2011 the German state of Schleswig-Holstein said the button breached German data protection laws and that federal agencies must remove the buttons and similar social plug-ins from their websites.[17] Canada's Privacy Commissioner had raised similar concerns in 2010.[18]

From the end of 2010 and in the US, Microsoft's Bing search engine identifies which links in the results have been "Liked" by the searcher's Facebook friends.[19][20]

Privacy issues[edit]

Research shows that Facebook Likes profile can be automatically processed to infer intimate details about an individual, such as sexual orientation, political and religious views, race, substance use, intelligence, and personality.[21] Effectively, individual views and preferences can be revealed even if they were not directly expressed or indicated by Liking an associated content. For example, user does not have to Like "Barack Obama", "Being Gay" or "Being Black" to be flagged with appropriate category with high accuracy.

Anyone with access to users' Likes, e.g. applications and websites connecting with user's profile, governmental institutions, or even one’s Facebook friends could use software to infer intimate details that an individual may not have intended to share. One can imagine situations in which such predictions, even if incorrect, could pose a threat to an individual’s well-being, freedom, or even life.

Vulnerability to attacks[edit]

"Like" links are vulnerable to likejacking, a form of clickjacking that makes users "Like" content they did not intend to.[22]

Use on other social networks[edit]

In February 2013, legal action was brought against Facebook by patent-holding company Rembrandt Social Media. Rembrandt owns several patents taken out by Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer, who died in 2004. These include patents filed in 1998 relating to van Der Meer's fledgling social network Surfbook, including, according to legal papers filed by the patent holder, the ability for users to approve data using a "like" button[23][24][25] On August 2011, Google integrated a form of the Like button it calls the +1 button to its competing social networking site Google+.[26] The social microblogging site Twitter also launched a "Follow" button around the same time.[27]

In culture[edit]

Latin American NGO Un Techo Para Mi País has used a Facebook-like dislike button in their campaigns as a symbol for dissatisfaction on poverty and slum housing.[28]


Fake "likes"[edit]

The amount of “likes" on Facebook can serve as a measurement of interest and/or popularity in a particular brand, product or personality.[29] Not only can a large amount of “likes” be influential on shaping reputations,[30] but can also lead to increased exposure - such as appearing in the “Recommendations Feed” - the “like” has an advertisement-value in itself. This has led to companies specializing in selling “likes”[31] from fake accounts, which can prove to be troublesome for the “like”-mesasurement’s credibility.[30] If nobody believes that these measures have any power or truth to them, then businesses can’t benefit from the advertising and social media marketing becomes impossible.[29] Facebook has stated that using purchased “likes” is not permitted on their social media platform, and has an automated process trying to eliminate “likes” gained by malware, deceived users purchased bulk “likes”.[32] Instead, Facebook allows page owners to advertise to potentially increase their page's like count.[33]


Like buttons as used by social networks on websites other than their own are often used as web bugs to track user activities for targeted advertising such as behavioral targeting combined with personally identifiable information (PII) and may be considered a breach of browser security and internet safety privacy concerns.[13][14][15][17][18]


  1. ^ Facebook likes, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4251-334-0, retrieved 27 January 2014 
  2. ^ Kincaid, Jason (February 9, 2009). "Facebook Activates "Like" Button; FriendFeed Tires Of Sincere Flattery". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ Arrington, Michael (March 25, 2010). "Facebook To Release a "Like" Button For the Whole Darn Internet". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ Porterfield, Amy; Khare, Phyllis; Vahl, Andrea (2011). "Chapter 3: Better Engagement with the Help of Facebook Like Links and Buttons". Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-470-94230-4. 
  5. ^ "Like Box". Facebook Developers. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Like". Facebook Help Centre. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Lawsuit says teens too young to "Like" Facebook ads". France24/AFP. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Facebook sued over 'like' button - BBC, 11 February 2013
  9. ^ "Social Plugins". Facebook Developers. Facebook. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Siegler, MG (April 21, 2010). "Facebook: We'll Serve 1 Billion Likes on the Web in Just 24 Hours". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Fletcher, Dan (April 22, 2010). "Facebook Looks to Get Personal". Time. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (April 21, 2010). "Zuckerberg: 'We Are Building a Web Where the Default is Social'". TechCrunch. 
  13. ^ a b Zawinski, Jamie (founder of the Mozilla Foundation) (02011-09-02). "Surprise! Facebook doesn't like privacy countermeasures". 
  14. ^ a b c McCullagh, Declan (June 2, 2010). "Facebook 'Like' button draws privacy scrutiny". CNET News. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Roosendaal, Arnold (November 30, 2010). "Facebook Tracks and Traces Everyone: Like This!". Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ Gelles, David (21 September 2010). "E-commerce takes instant liking to Facebook button". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Albanesius, Chloe (August 19, 2011). "German Agencies Banned From Using Facebook, 'Like' Button". PC Magazine. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Facebook privacy probed over 'like,' invitations". CBC News. September 23, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ Yin, Sara (15 December 2010). "Microsoft Adds Facebook 'Likes' to Bing Search Results". PC Mag. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  20. ^ Yiu, Paul; The Bing Team (15 December 2010). "Bing Feature Update: Discover more things your Facebook friends like". Bing Search blog. Microsoft. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  21. ^ Kosinski, Michal; Stillwell, D., Graepel, T. (2013). "Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (15): 5802–5805. 
  22. ^ Perez, Sarah (1 June 2010). ""Likejacking" Takes Off on Facebook". ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Facebook sued over 'like' button". BBC. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Method and apparatus for implementing a web page diary". United States Patent Office. July 2, 2002. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "System and method for generating, transferring and using an annotated universal address". United States Patent Office. September 11, 2001. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Newman, Jared (24 August 2011). "Google +1 Now Links to Google+ Profiles: Let the War on Facebook's 'Like' Button Begin". PC World. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  27. ^ Bazilian, Emma (June 1, 2011). "Twitter and Google Launch Their Own 'Like' Buttons". Adweek. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  28. ^ No me gusta - Un Techo para mi País, Campaña 2010
  29. ^ a b "Fake Facebook Likes Are Killing Social | Social Media Today". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  30. ^ a b "Hackers Are Creating And Selling Fake 'Likes' On Facebook, Instagram,". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  31. ^ "Buy Facebook Likes". Buy Facebook Likes. 
  32. ^ "Improvements To Our Site Integrity Systems". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  33. ^ "BBC News - Virtual Bagel, Virtual Cat - who 'likes' you?". Retrieved 2014-04-03. 

Whiteside, Jennifer (6 November 2013). "Facebook reveals redesigned Like button". AmongTech. Retrieved 6 November 2013.