Facebook Unveils New ‘Reaction’ Emoticons

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Facebook has unveiled a new form of post interaction, as new “Reaction” buttons have been added alongside the traditional “Like” button.

Users can now choose from a range of different reactions upon seeing a post: “Love”, “Ha Ha”, “Wow”, “Angry”, “Yay”, and “Happy”. Each reaction comes with a different animated emoji.

Yet Facebook’s product design director Julie Zhou maintained that the “Like” is still the most important emotion, saying that it was still the “go-to reaction for most posts” and that “we didn’t want to make that any harder.”

The new features come after years of calls for a “Dislike” button on the site, which Facebook have consistently rejected on the grounds that it is “too negative” and opens up users to potential bullying.

However, recently CEO Mark Zuckerburg told his team “[He] really wanted to make it really easy for people to give other types of feedback than the Like button in the News Feed.”

Facebook argues that Reactions will enable the site to provide the right content in users’ news feeds. Product Manager Sammi Krug wrote that “if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post. In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, ‘wows’ or ‘sads’ a post.”

“Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see,” she explained.

The new features have drawn comparisons to sites such as Path and Buzzfeed. Critics have also expressed fears that the new features might provide another means for social media sites such as Facebook to classify content, and therefore manipulate the reach of particular voices on the platform.

Reactions were originally tested in Spain, Japan, and Ireland, but have now been released globally. The rollout onto mobile devices is expected to take a couple of days to complete.

You can follow Ben Kew on Twitter at @ben_kew or email him at ben@yiannopoulos.net