Think before you click: Experts warn that 'likes' can be loaded with meaning
A sign with Facebook's 'Like' logo is posted at Facebook headquarters on Dec. 13, 2011. (Paul Sakuma / AP)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 9, 2018 2:29PM EST
Experts caution that you should be careful about what you 'like' on social media, because the click of a button could be loaded with meaning -- intended or not.
The semiotics of digital hearts, thumbs-up and emoji have come into the spotlight after several high-profile figures have found themselves in hot water over liking posts.
MP Tony Clement, who has been ousted from the Conservative Party, admitted on Thursday to engaging in "inappropriate exchanges" online after allegations emerged that he used social media to connect with young women, message them privately and like their photos.
The director of the Innovation Studio at Ryerson University says the like button is a blunt instrument that can impute a complex range of interpersonal meaning, but those cues can get muddled in interpretation.
Ramona Pringle says depending on the context, likes can be casual affirmations, units of social currency, flirtatious gestures, subtle slights or public gaffes.
Jaigris Hodson, a professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria, says likes must read within their social context, and when there's a power imbalance between users, an unsolicited like can be akin to a cat call, or even forebode an escalation of predatory online behaviour.