For years, one phrase has filled the comments of Facebook: “I wish I could ‘dislike’ this.” There’s nothing more awkward than having to click “like” to show support for a friend when they post about a dead pet. Facebook has heard the complaints and finally decided to do something about it. Starting this week, Facebook has introduced five new “reactions” into its programming. Now you can react with a “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry” in addition to liking people’s posts. This news has created quite a buzz in the online community, and people are already expressing their full range of emotions on other people’s posts.
While Facebook users are just happy to have more ways to interact, Facebook has other motivations for the new reactions. For years, Facebook has used the “like” button to gauge their users' interest in posts. That way, they can collect data and determine which posts are most relevant to their users and what should be at the top of the timeline. While currently Facebook is simply counting every reaction as a like, they hope to be able to use the information from the reactions to tailor users’ newsfeeds more specifically to their interests. This will also aid advertisers in targeted advertising, something Facebook has been criticized for before.
The reactions have swept up Internet news this week, with articles discussing their merits and drawbacks popping up everywhere, as well as user guides explaining exactly how to use them and even the appropriate timing to do so.
Missing from the lineup is a “yay” reaction that was initially announced with the rest of them last fall. The work that went into the development of these emojis was rigorous, and according to Facebook officials, the “yay” did not make the cut. Through an intense process of focus groups and psychological analysis, it was determined that the “yay” reaction was confusing and ultimately unnecessary.
The new reactions do not exactly constitute a dislike button and are positive, for the most part, but their unveiling seems to have done the trick for the masses. As with any new technology, people are going berserk over a shiny new toy. The reaction to this change could best be described with the new “love” button.