Online GraphingThis week I was faced with the seemingly easy enough to answer question...

Does clicking the "Like" button on a Facebook page equal an endorsement?

While I have my own opinion on this, I know I often do not hold the prevailing worldview on things, so I turned to my Facebook friends for their opinions. I was rewarded by discovering through the plentiful and thoughtful replies, that like with most things, perception and opinion are out dirty dancing.

There were 26 answers, including my own, which I added at the end of the unscientific survey so I wouldn't influence anyone else's (don't want my superpowers getting in the way). I separated them out as those who gave a staunch yes and those who gave a no, or another answer - because for several respondents, it wasn't black and white:

I'd say its a show of support but wouldn't go as far as an endorsement...I "like" pages of businesses I've been to mostly but recently "liked" a page that is a friend's business...have not been to the location-it was more a show of support for him! - Marikay

IMHO, liking a page simply means that whoever/whatever the page represents is of some interest to you, either personally or professionally. If simply "liking" a page means that I endorse their product/service/opinion, I need to do some quick maintenance... - Richard

I think "interested" is the best answer! - Hanna

Depends. If it's something unrelated to my work then yes, liking them means I endorse them. If it's work related then a like is so I can stay updated on what they're doing. It could very well develop into a true like and then endorsement. - Jeff

Not at all. I 'like' many pages that are completely at odds with my sensibilities. I just want to see what they're up to. 'Like' doesn't mean like on Facebook. It doesn't mean 'approves of'. It means looking at. - OOdie

Most of the time, I'd say yes. But there are a few pages I've liked more for networking purposes than to endorse content. - Jack

No - I "like" pages that I want to keep an eye on but don't really like. Pages should allow "follow"ers for this reason. - John

You have to be careful, because even though it's taboo, a lot of "like bait" still happens with contests. I unfortunately had to "Like" UGI's page during the Irene outages. By no means does that mean I like them - they suck, but it seems the only way they talk about outage updates online is through their Facebook page.

So, while the intended use of a screwdriver is to install, uninstall or adjust a screw, often times the handle is used as a hammer or the long slender tip is used to unwedge something that has fallen in a tight spot that short meaty fingers can't reach. Such is the "Like" feature on Facebook, and other sites.

I consulted Facebook Help to see what the intended use was envisioned to be and here it is revealed:

Liking a Page means you're connecting to that Page. Liking a post from a friend means you're letting that friend know you like their post without leaving a comment. When you connect to a Page, you'll start to see stories from that Page in your News Feed. The Page will also appear on your profile, and you'll appear on the Page as a person who likes that Page. - Facebook Help

My own opinion? I'm onboard with Facebook's intended use. I like practical. The directory of products, people, businesses, causes, etc., has become so vast, that apart from genuine endorsement, I use the like feature as a form of bookmarking pages I am interested in for a variety of reasons, since the site offers no real other way to do that, even though it appears indistinguishable which are which - I know.

However, Stephen pointed out something worthy of consideration, especially since it appears from my bit of informal research that 35% of users believe 'Like" is a definitive endorsement:

Facebook or the real world, it doesn't matter...if you associate your name with something, folks will believe that you support that page/cause. The real question is this: would you be okay with someone making that assumption?

Sigh.. that greatly dismays me. In any event, I will leave you with a request posted to the thread by Samantha - someone I know only virtually, but who I know has struggled with many unfortunate circumstances that have caused severe complications and personal setbacks in her life:

Would you like my page started new business to help my situation it's really cool though. we have cool affordable contacts.

I liked it, so there...


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