Facebook ‘Reactions’ Coming Within Weeks Signal Facebook’s Biggest Change In Years

Facebook has confirmed that a big change is coming to its emblematic “like” button, and in typical Facebook fashion, the aesthetics of the change will be coming in a clean and stylish way.

Facebook’s “like” button is iconic in the most literal sense of the word. It is Facebook’s most recognizable symbol and has become almost synonymous with the brand. According to Bloomberg, the first source to report the details of the button’s coming change, people around the world click the like button over six billion times per day, so changing the nature of the like button is an absolutely huge move.

“Changing the button is like Coca-Cola messing with its secret recipe.”

The Facebook 'like' symbol is iconic in the most literal sense of the word. Now, 'reactions' attempts to diversify the button's success.
The like icon has become so representative of Facebook’s brand that it is the sole symbol adorning a billboard next to their headquarters in Menlo Park, California. [Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images]
Facebook and its fans (which make up quite a sizable demographic) have long bemoaned the lack of ability to specify their exact emotional reactions when liking a post. Some people have proposed a dislike button that could convey more negative reactions about a post, but Mark Zuckerberg nixed the dislike idea in a Q&A he gave last September.

“People aren’t looking for an ability to downvote other people’s posts. What they really want is to be able to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment, right? And if you are sharing something that is sad, whether it’s something in current events like the refugee crisis that touches you or if a family member passed away, then it might not feel comfortable to Like that post.”

Coming up with suitable ideas has proven problematic… until now.

The solution: a set of five emojis, officially dubbed “reactions,” that serve as subsets of the like button.

The five reactions picked – “angry,” “sad,” “haha,” “wow,” and “love” – were determined through market research that found those were the reactions people experienced most often when they ‘liked’ something on Facebook.

Don’t worry, though; the coming “reactions” buttons will not clutter up posts, an issue Chris Cox, Facebook’s CPO, has expressed concern about in the past.

“This was a feature that was right in the heart of the way you use Facebook,” he said, “so it needed to be executed really well in order to not detract and clutter up the experience. All of the other attempts had failed.”

Zuckerberg himself was the one coming up with the resolution. On the surface, the singular like button will look exactly the same as before. A user has to click and hold the button for a moment to bring up the reactions.

Over the past year, Facebook has been conducting alpha tests of ideas similar to the forthcoming reactions in cities all around the globe, from Japan to Ireland to Colombia. The feature’s largest test-run, Cox said, was in Paris during the city’s November terrorist attacks.

“Users in the test countries had options other than like,” the Bloomberg article reads. “And they used them.”

the coming 'reactions' feature will supplement the like button by allowing users to convey empathy
Zuckerberg wants users to be able to express empathy for others during times of crisis, such as natural disasters and deaths in the family. [Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images]
So yes, over 1.6 billion Facebook users around the world will be placated with the coming addition of reactions, but the benefits Facebook as a company will enjoy as a result of the change do not stop there. Assuming the reactions feature is used, as the very well-received tests indicate they will be, the move will serve as a huge boost for Facebook’s ad targeting (and therefore, it’s revenues), because the site will be able to more accurately determine the user’s mood and the types of advertisement he or she might best respond to when coming to Facebook.

Facebook has not yet commented on the exact date reactions will become available to the world, but it has confirmed that it will be sometime in the coming couple of weeks. Is it possible Facebook is about to get even more addictive with the coming of reactions?

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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