In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was working on a "dislike" button to let users show empathy. During a public Q&A, Zuckerberg replied to a question about the much-requested option, saying that the new feature would reflect a more nuanced expressivity than the social network's famously positive "like":
"What [users] really want to express is empathy. Not every moment is a good moment, right? And if you are sharing something that’s sad, like whether it's something in current events like the refugee crisis that touches you or a family member passed away, then it may not be comfortable to 'like' that post."
Facebook finally showed the world what those might look like on Wednesday: six well-known emoji called "Reactions."
Most internet users will be very familiar with the new icons
The company studied data on user comments and reactions, chief product officer Chris Cox wrote in an official statement posted to Facebook. The platform will test the feature by offering it first to users in Spain and Ireland beginning later this week; it will only be viewable to users within those two countries.
None of the reactions are new characters, although they are a new technical integration to Facebook's platform.
Reactions help Facebook catch up to users and other platforms
Reactions hits a middle ground between the ever-popular emoji and Facebook stickers that — while I enjoy using them ironically — are mostly bizarre cartoon characters. What makes Reactions new to Facebook is that they are offered as a built-in feature in the same way stickers are now.
Emoji are popular across social media networks. For example, the messaging platform Slack offers reactions on user comments, though Slack has far more options since it's based on a larger set of emoji (and also incorporates custom emoji). The feature is, coincidentally enough, called reactions. Here's an example:
Facebook is playing a bit of catch-up with Reactions, but if you're dying for a truly new expressive feature, why not make one using Vox's Social Media Reaction Generator?