SAN FRANCISCO — It’s not a “dislike” button but Facebook is going beyond the “like” button to express a broader range of human emotions.
No longer will the ubiquitous “like” button have to do all the heavy emotional lifting. The new buttons called “Reactions” include “love,” “haha ,” “wow” and “yay.” Also at your fingertips will be angry and sad faces. The emoji-like symbols are designed to be universally recognized across cultures.
“As you can see, it’s not a ‘dislike’ button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly,” said Chris Cox, Facebook’s product chief.
Facebook is rolling out “Reactions” first in Spain and Ireland and will gauge reaction before rolling out them out more broadly. Adam Mosseri, a product director at Facebook, says it will likely be weeks before the more emotive buttons are available in the USA.
“We are going to continue to iterate,” Mosseri said. “We hope that some of these reactions meet people’s needs in a human way.”
Moving beyond the “like” button has been debated inside Facebook for years. One of the most popular requests from Facebook users is a “dislike” button.
Facebook agrees that “like” is not the right sentiment for everything friends and family put on the social network. But founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg did not want to give users a new tool to vote down or criticize someone or a status update. He did want to give people an easy way to express more supportive emotions such as sympathy or congratulations.
“What (users) really want is an ability to express empathy,” Zuckerberg said during a Q&A session at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters in September. “If you’re expressing something sad … it may not feel comfortable to ‘like’ that post, but your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand.”
The giant social network with 1.5 billion users is catching up on the growing popularity of emojis and GIFs to quickly communicate a reaction or an emotion on social networks and messaging services around the world.
Facebook began experimenting with the new buttons about six months ago. They work in the place of the “like” button and range from a heart to express “love” to a smiley face with creased eyes and tongue hanging out to say “ha ha.” Facebook decided to use facial expressions and paid special attention to small details, even the arch of the eyebrows, because they are easiest for humans to recognize and process.
The buttons show up when you press and hold the “like” button on mobile or hover over the “like” button on desktop. The status update displays the number of hearts as it would the number of likes showing the sentiment around the post, Mosseri said. The new “Reactions” buttons will be weighed in the computer algorithm that determines what people see in their individual News Feed.
Facebook is also experimenting with subtle animation.
“We want people to express themselves, it’s part of our mission,” Mosseri said.
Asked which button he would use to express his feeling about this product launch, Mosseri said: “I am pretty excited about this. That was a ‘yay.'”
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