Facebook announced a revolutionary feature that will finally let people express feelings with the least amount of effort possible.
Reactions improve on “Likes”
This scenario should be familiar to all: Your friend posts a status about their loved one getting injured in a freak curling accident or about their cat’s premature demise at the hands of a misplaced cucumber. You can’t click “Like” on a status like that. What do you do? Today, Facebook offers literally no other option to deal with such situations.
“Sure, you can write a human response using any of the words in the English language,” says Mike Butterworth, Facebook’s human interactions engineer, “but that opens up for an almost limitless range of subsequent dialogue options, which—frankly—none of us have the time or energy for.”
That’s why Facebook is reportedly expanding its repertoire of possible responses with five new options, called “reactions.” These five reactions are Angry, Wow, Haha, Sad, and Love, which are widely understood to convey the full spectrum of human emotion. By holding down the “Like” button, people will be able to call up these reactions and craft a more personal response.
“Today, we find that people circumvent the obvious limitation of the ‘Like’ button by, for example, typing the word ‘dislike’ or using a thumbs down emoji,” says Christy May, button design specialist, “The thing is, each of those actions requires multiple clicks or keyboard presses.”
The new reactions can be shared with a single press, making them at least 300 percent more efficient. Another problem with the current emojis is that they’re easy to misinterpret. Your friend may send you a smiling emoji, but to you it will look like someone squinting very hard. This is obviously far from optimal.
To fix this common issue, the upcoming reactions will be animated. They’ll move and change expressions, communicating beyond the shadow of a doubt what their intended meaning is. Bill Bezeler, emoji architect, has this to say:
“I just want to stress that these new reactions are most definitely not emojis or stickers. Emojis and stickers are accessed through a special menu, while these reactions will be right there, at your fingertips. Totally different.”
More to come…
The new reactions are expected to become available in the coming weeks. They are a culmination of years of research and development and mark a significant milestone for Facebook and the wider world of social media.
“We’re really proud of what we have accomplished here!” says Tina Gray, customer enhancement technician, “But we’re not resting on our laurels, so to speak. We have a number of innovations planned that will make the process of nurturing your online relationships a lot easier by taking it out of your hands and moving it to the cloud.”
In pursuit of that goal, Facebook is working on an AI algorithm that will post status updates on your behalf by analyzing your past online behavior and predicting the most likely thing you’re about to share. A member of Gray’s team agrees to demo an early prototype. He logs in with his Facebook profile, and his test machine whirs into action, typing out a status update without any involvement on his part. The screen reads:
Tomorrow I’ve eaten lunch Lady Gaga dance pink handcuffs!
“It’s a work in progress,” he smiles sheepishly, unplugging his computer and pushing it casually off the table and onto the floor.
Facebook’s ambition is to one day eliminate the need for a comment field altogether, so that people can communicate exclusively through single button presses.
“Our motto here is ‘If an interaction takes more than a single click, it’s an interaction not worth having,'” says Tina Gray.
We aren’t quite sure how to respond to this, so we’ll give it a Wow and a Love.