Facebook has announced a new range of variations on its Like button, which will enable users to better express their feelings about the content they encounter on the site. The new feature, nicknamed ‘Reactions’, is most likely what Mark Zuckerberg was referring to in a live Q&A last month, which led to rumours of a Dislike button.
In addition to the traditional thumbs up ‘Like’, users will now have access to a ‘Love’ (symbolised as a heart), and a series of emoji faces to express sympathy, sadness, anger, or amusement. Zuck mentioned last month that Facebook was working on a way to foster more “empathy” on the network, and Reactions certainly offers a more nuanced way to engage with sad or distressing news.
This is new for Facebook, but will hardly come as much of a surprise to anybody who has used other platforms like Slack. “A small set of reactive emoji is definitely not an unfamiliar interface for online users,” writes Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch. “Social networks like Path and sites like BuzzFeed already give users the ability to respond to posts with different reactions beyond simple likes and faves.”
But, while not completely groundbreaking, Reactions will at least offer a more nuanced means of self-expression to loyal Facebook users. This comes hot on the heels of other new customised feature; the Snapchat-inspired ‘Doodle’, which allows users to draw on top of photos.
The new buttons will be trialled in Ireland and Spain first. Both countries enjoy a large national user base, but predominantly without diverse international connections, making them the ideal closed test groups. Ireland will function as a trial run for the English-speaking world, while Spain will give Facebook an insight into how non-English-speaking countries will respond to the Reaction emoticons.