“Wow” Facebook Reacts

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Chetna Kohli, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

Who doesn’t use Facebook these days? Facebook is a vital application for people who want to stay up to date and connect instantly with anybody at anytime anywhere around the globe. We love Facebook the way it is but we don’t mind improvements. Facebook released “Reactions” today. This feature is not something totally new but an extension of the existing “like” button.

There are numerous reasons we like some post of facebook – intellectual appeal, awe, beauty, sarcasm, sympathy, humor, so on and so forth. Sometimes we feel anger or sadness over something. There are a lot of emotions we feel when we see posts from friends. It is difficult to sum up these posts in a single like or a comment. Facebook understands this and has added six new animated emoticons for expressing different feelings. These emoticons are “Like”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, “love” and “angry”.

The mission to build Reactions began around a year ago. Mark Zuckerberg had conceded that the platform needed a more expressive way for users to interact with posts because not every post is likable. Emojis are more than just a playful shorthand for the written word. Nearly 70 percent of meaning derived from spoken language comes from nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions and emojis fulfill this function of non verbal cues. Humans have numerous emotions and it was a daunting task to choose just a handful of them.Facebook decided to focus on the sentiments its users expressed most often.

They analyzed how a subset of Facebook users from around the world used the platform. They looked at the most frequently used stickers, emoji, and one-word comments and found a few common emotional threads from an ocean of diverse sentiments. Most users posted the hearts-in-the-eyes emoji for almost anything they liked. They expressed humor, sadness, and shock through visual means. The team at Facebok took a subset of reactions that cut across the emotional dimensions, removed redundancies like sympathy and sadness, and joy and love and finally created prototype emojis for testing with users.

The Reactions needed to fulfill two main criteria: universality and expressiveness. Because emojis are non verbals there is a high chance of cultual ambiguity. Facebook’s Reactions closely resemble established Unicode characters, with a few minor adjustments here and there. Facebook’s design attempted to exploit the subtle visual cues to diferentiate the emoticons.

Facebook has never been afraid to alter its design even if the results were not well received by the audience. The attempt at Reactions seems to be a successful endeavour. Maybe we will see vocals coming in very soon!


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