As revealed in October, Facebook has been hard at work reinventing the famed Like button—and Bloomberg got the inside scoop. In a profile published Wednesday, Bloomberg digs into why Facebook decided to tweak the emblematic feature and reveals that the social network’s new, emoji-laden spin on the Like button will officially launch “in the next few weeks.”
Reactions, as Facebook is calling it, will offer users a range of emojis in addition to the standard thumbs-up that, till now, has been synonymous with the Like button. Led by chief product officer Chris Cox, the team behind Reactions compiled Facebook’s most popular user responses and grouped them into categories, ultimately landing on five: angry, sad, wow, haha, and love. (“Yay” was originally part of Reactions as well, but was later nixed because “it was not universally understood,” Bloomberg reports.) Reactions will embellish the existing Like button, rather than replace it, and will only show up when users hold down on the thumbs-up symbol, to avoid cluttering the design of Facebook posts.
From the Bloomberg story:
Within the company, there was some debate on how to add the options without making every post look crowded with things to click. The simpler Facebook is to use, the more people will use it. Zuckerberg had a solution: Just display the usual thumbs-up button under each post, but if someone on her smartphone presses down on it a little longer, the other options will reveal themselves. Cox’s team went with that and added animation to clarify their meaning, making the yellow emojis bounce and change expression. The angry one turns red, looking downward in rage, for example. Once people click their responses, the posts in News Feed show a tally of how many wows, hahas, and loves each generated.
Reactions will thus yield a whole new set of metrics for Facebook, with which the company can fine-tune its News Feed algorithm. Facebook’s end game, as per Bloomberg, is to create “a universal vocabulary that lets people express emotion as they scroll through their feed.”
Facebook has been testing Reactions in select countries since Zuckerberg publicly teased the project in October. This means that some people were able to use Reactions during the recent terror attacks in Paris. From Bloomberg:
Cox says Reactions’ biggest test so far was during the November terrorist attacks in Paris. Users in the test countries had options other than like, and they used them. “It just felt different to use Facebook that day,” he says.