It is very common, […] for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.JUSTIN ROSENSTEIN, FORMER FACEBOOK EMPLOYEE AND INVENTOR OF THE “LIKE” BUTTON
Sometimes it is very simple strategies that lead a company to success. At Apple, for example, it is perfection in all areas, whether it is the products or the architecture of the flagship stores.
The exact opposite is the case with Facebook: the motto “Move Fast and Break Things” embodies the strategy of bringing new developments to market as quickly as possible and only perfecting them afterwards. Always being first creates competitive advantages – without a doubt. However, the associated risk of making mistakes is accepted, such as the unforeseen social effects of a “Like” button.
This little button in the shape of a thumb pointing upwards, which was only meant as a “little positive kick” and feedback on a post, quickly mutated into a desirable trophy, and with it the social pressure to collect as many of them as possible increased. Users began the hunt for this short-term kick by posting more than usual – and at the same time they provided Facebook with valuable data about their preferences.
This “game mechanic” – the number of likes is comparable to the score in games – can now be found on almost all social media platforms in a similar form.
What was misunderstood as a popularity or quality feature is now a purchasable product that catapults the ranking upwards. This leads the original idea ad absurdum.
Inside the Social Network. (Film)