Facebook Messenger's "Like" Button Ignores User Flow

Whenever a friend messages me on Facebook Messenger, I get a push notification on my phone (screenshot below).

I’ve been wondering why Facebook gives me the option to “like” at this point in the user flow.

I haven’t even read the message yet. Why would I preemptively “like” it without knowing the content?


I understand that Facebook wants to make the thumbs-up sign a universal symbol associated with Facebook.

Maybe a marketer said, “We want to train customers to get in the habit of ‘liking’ things. Let’s add a 'like' button wherever we can. ”

So an engineer added this button which gives users the option to “like” a message when they get a push notification that a message just rolled in.

Except this feature does not make sense when you consider the user flow. People read message content first, then decide if they want to “like” it. Not the other way around. 

[Edit: A reader shared that my notification setting doesn’t show a message preview. I realize that some people have the preview on, so “liking” a message at that stage might make sense. But if you are giving users the option to have the preview off, then you should also remove the “like” button when the preview is off.]

I wholly applaud the genius behind the “like” button overall. It’s effective at letting consumers chime in on a topic and express support with little friction. When repeated, people get in the habit of clicking “like” regularly, which increases engagement metrics.

There are even articles now about people trying to avoid “liking” things on Facebook just to see if they can, which shows how much the feature has become a normal part of the user experience on Facebook.

But no matter how much you want to promote something, you have to acknowledge the reality of user flow. Acknowledge that people don’t “like” personal messages before even reading what it is. 

Interestingly, people do “like” and share without fully reading articles. I thought that was interesting and will admit that I’ve done it myself before. The difference is that with articles, you can see the title and maybe an excerpt before sending, so you have a general idea of what the content is about. Then you share it with someone you think might find it interesting.

With a personal message on a push notification (per my above screenshot), you have no idea what that message is, so it makes it harder for people to “like” it at that point. And you definitely wouldn’t share a message without even knowing what it said.

I’m curious about the data behind how many users actually “like” a message on this push notification screen without having seen the message first. It’s possible that people do use it, but we’d need access to Facebook’s user data in order to determine that. I bet it’s not many.

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