Article by Christina Crasto | esPResso Staff Writer
After being tested in Spain, Ireland, the Philippines, Chile and several other countries, Facebook’s new “Reactions” were introduced globally this past Wednesday. The main goal of these buttons is to provide an alternative for “liking” a post. Facebook users can now hover their mouse cursor (or finger on touch screens) over the ‘thumbs up’ icon to see a new range of responses, including “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”
Facebook executives worked closely with sociologists, psychologists and nonverbal communication experts in attempt to find icons that could translate universally for Facebook users in over 70 different languages. Through focus groups and surveys, the company researched users’ responses to the options for liking a post. Facebook’s original Reactions idea contained an option for “yay,” but after receiving negative feedback and confusion, the final version was limited to a red heart for “love,” a laughing face for “haha,” a shocked face for “wow,” a face with tears for “sad” and a red face for “angry.” This demonstration of attentiveness to stakeholder input seems to have an overall favorable impact to the new reactions.
Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed the disappointment of users who had expected a “dislike” button to be included in these features by stating that Facebook would continue to resist creating a tool which would allow users to easily criticize each other. There have also been rumors that Facebook will use these new Reactions to create an internal algorithm to track users’ “Reactions” to personalize their newsfeed content and help advertisers generate targeted ads. Facebook Product Manager Sammi Krug stated that the company is merely attempting to provide users with more ways to express themselves on Facebook, especially empathy. For example, if a friend’s relative dies, you can now pick the “sad” icon over liking the status.
From a communication perspective, Facebook can also use this new feature to increase its number of clicks and level of engagement. Whether or not you believe these Reactions will create more genuine emotional response online, Facebook users can still rely on the original like and commenting feature.