Facebook "Unlikes" Grammar Critiques

New "unlike" button doesn't belong

By Scott McGrew
|  Monday, Apr 26, 2010  |  Updated 6:35 PM EDT
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Geeks Gone Wild

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The logo of social networking website 'Facebook' is displayed on a computer screen in London, 12 December 2007. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

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An astute viewer pointed out to us that Facebook's push to spread its "like" button across the Web is also spreading the mangling of the English language. Once you click "like," the button changes to "unlike."

But Merriam-Webster says "unlike" is defined as "a marked by lack of resemblance." As in "one of these things is not like the other."

What Facebook should have used if they were looking to please the proper grammar-conscious is "dislike."

We contacted Facebook to ask about this egregious attack on English, fully expecting them not to comment. Or in Facebook-ese "uncomment."

But to our surprise, they did comment. Pointing out that their concept of "friending" and "unfriending" had been accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary  -- THE definitive record of the English Language,  a spokesperson for Facebook said:

The Oxford Dictionary is constantly adding new words to reflect the changes in language and culture. Just last year, it picked another unconventional use of the "un" prefix as its 2009 Word of the Year: "unfriend."  There was much debate between "defriend" and "unfriend," but Oxford stood by its choice. We're not ones to question Oxford's methodology for additions like "muggle,", "mini-me" and "bootylicious."  Perhaps a new meaning for "unlike" will be included soon.

So there's your answer. Facebook says it has the Oxford English Dictionary on its side. And any corporate statement that involves the word "bootylicious" gets our nod of approval.

Scott McGrew is a tech reporter for NBC Bay Area.  He's concerned his spellcheck went right over the word "bootylicious" with no problem.

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