Facebook reactions will soon be launched worldwide, completely altering the way users interact on the social networking platform, company officials have recently announced.
Ever since Facebook’s early beginnings, the “Like” button has become inextricably associated with the social media website, becoming a symbol that’s instantly recognized by virtually anyone.
On a daily basis, around 6 billion likes are awarded by the platform’s 1.6 billion members, this staggering number being even higher than the number of requests sent to Google’s search engine.
Everyone nowadays appears to be obsessed with getting as many likes as possible, because now the ubiquitous blue and white thumbs-up sign is perceived as a vote of confidence, and even as a social currency for prestige, fame and popularity.
From the teenager who’s just been gifted a car, to the couple who has just returned from a dream vacation, from the politician who’s just announced his presidential bid, to the restaurant chain who’s just unveiled a new menu item, everyone is desperate for validation, and the quest for likes seems to be universal and irrepressible.
But Facebook’s Like isn’t always the most accurate and sensitive means of showing support: it feels completely inappropriate to read a news story on Facebook about a devastating hurricane and then award it with a “like”, or to find out about your friend’s latest breakup or dismissal and immediately give the good ol’ thumbs-up.
And yet many Facebook users respond even to the most upsetting, shocking or horrific updates or posts with a like, simply because there is no other alternative, except for that of writing an actual comment.
Some may be too pressed for time to share their thoughts, others simply find it hard to express how they feel, so the non-verbal like button appears like the quickest way of acknowledging and responding to their friend’s status update.
In that case, a thumbs-up may not actually mean that someone is genuinely rejoicing at another person’s misfortune. Instead, it may simply translate as “You don’t have to face this alone” or “I heard the news and I’m here for you”.
Given the limited situations when a “like” can accurately reflect a user’s true feelings or attitudes, company executives have been toying with the idea of introducing a “dislike” button also, but that suggestion was quickly dismissed on the grounds that it would promote too much negativity.
Now it appears a middle ground has finally been found by the Menlo Park, California-based company, with Facebook Reactions, which has been undergoing trial testing in Ireland and Spain ever since October 2015.
The functionality is also being provided to users of the “big blue app” located in Colombia, Chile, Portugal and the Philippines, and will soon be expanded in every corner of the world.
The new feature will offer a more complex alternative to the “like” button, by allowing users to respond to status updates and other stories from their newsfeed with one of the following emotions: “angry”, “sad”, “love”, “wow” and “haha”.
There used to be a “yay” also among the options that can be accessed by long-pressing the “like” button, but it was soon discarded, because developers believed its meaning wouldn’t be able to cross language barriers and be understood accurately in every nation across the globe.
Apparently, Facebook Reactions will be unveiled in the near future, and give users the possibility to share feedback more accurately than before, and engage with their friends more easily, without having to write lengthy, time-consuming comments.
In addition, this will also simplify research that’s being conducted by advertisers on the platform, because it will permit them to measure public sentiment more effectively, assessing the way consumers perceive various brands and companies.
Thus, the new functionality will enable businesses to adapt their marketing strategy to the needs and desires expressed by their target audience, and will also provide them with a new tool meant to gauge the popularity of their new products or services.
All in all, Facebook Reactions appears like a win-win for everyone, but it remains to be seen to what extent the new emoticons will be used, and how much the networking platform’s members will continue to rely on the “like” button, that they have been using and abusing for so long.
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