Express your true emotions with Facebook’s new Reactions buttons

Image courtesy Facebook
Image courtesy Facebook

Video illustration courtesy Facebook. 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Facebook is giving users a new way to express how they feel about their friends’ posts.

Starting Wednesday, Facebook is rolling out a feature that lets users react to posts using a series of emoticons. Reactions include “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad,” “Angry,” and the classic “Like.”

To add a reaction, hold down the “Like” button on your phone or tablet, or hover over the “Like” button on your computer. The five new options will appear above the button. Tap or click the one you want to use.

Facebook already shows how many people like a post and lets you tap or click on the count for a list of people. With Reactions, you see how many people have reacted in some way, along with the top three reactions. You can get breakdowns for each reaction — the total and specific people.

If you don’t see the new options yet, don’t worry. They’ll be rolling out over the next several days.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

When a friend posts that his father has died, or a cousin gets frustrated with her morning commute, hitting “like” might seem insensitive. Users have long requested a “dislike” button, but that was deemed too negative and problematic. Are you disliking the death or the call for sympathy?

Facebook chose to offer more nuanced reactions to give users “greater control over their expressivity,” says Julie Zhuo, Facebook’s product design director.

WHY THESE CHOICES

Facebook went through comments on friends’ posts, as well as emoji-like stickers people were using. It chose the most common ones and tested those. Facebook considered dozens of reactions — but offering them all would have been confusing. Think of having to flip through pages and pages of emojis: Do you want one wink, a tear, a full frown or a half frown?

Facebook ultimately chose these six reactions for their universal appeal — something that could be understood around the world. Even a generic happy face “was a little bit ambiguous and harder for people to understand,” Zhuo says.

Each reaction comes with an animated emoji, such as the thumbs up for “like” and a heart for “love.” These emojis will look the same around the world, but phrases such as “love” will be translated.

A HAPPY BIAS?

Facebook has a complex formula for deciding which of your friends’ posts are more prominent. Ones that get a lot of likes, for instance, will tend to show up higher. Now, posts marked “angry” or “wow” will bump up, too.

But Facebook wants to show what it thinks you’re most interested in — and that might ultimately mean mostly happy posts, rather than ones that evoke sadness or anger. Zhuo says Facebook will tweak its formulas based on how people respond.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s