Love and Sadness: Facebook Launches ‘Reactions’ Emoji Buttons Worldwide

Facebook Reactions
Courtesy of Facebook

Facebook is now letting its billion-plus users express more than just a “like” on posts — with five new emojis for love, sadness, anger, “wow” and “haha.”

Absent from the list: a “dislike” button, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company didn’t just want to add what would amount to a “down-vote” option. The social giant’s global rollout of the new “Reactions” buttons Wednesday comes after it tested the feature in Ireland and Spain last fall.

For Facebook’s business partners and publishers, the change means users on the service will now be able to register “angry” or “sad” reactions to any content they post, alongside “likes,” “loves” and “wows.” According to the company, neither individual users nor companies can disable the Reactions buttons.

Facebook said it has spent more than a year conducting global research, including focus groups and surveys, to determine what reactions people would want to use most. To add a reaction, users must hold down the Like button on mobile apps or hover over the Like button on the desktop version of the site to see the reaction image options, then tap either Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry. In Facebook’s mobile apps, the icons are animated (for example, the “Sad” emoji has tears streaming down its face).

The company also will feed Reactions data into its algorithm for selecting stories to display prominently in a user’s News Feed. Initially, if someone uses a Reaction, “we will infer they want to see more of that type of post” regardless of the emotion, just as Facebook has done previously with “Likes,” product manager Sammi Krug wrote in a blog post. “Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see,” she added.

The social giant’s expanded emotional palette comes after last year’s release of Disney-Pixar’s “Inside Out,” which featured multi-hued characters personifying five emotions: joy, anger, fear, disgust and sadness.

Meanwhile, Twitter last fall changed its “favorite” tweet designation to a “like” denoted with a heart, to mixed user response.

Watch a demo of Facebook Reactions:

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