- Choices like `angry,' `sad' are meant to fill unmet need
- Pilot begins in Spain and Ireland but may roll out broadly
Facebook Inc. started publicly testing new options besides its iconic “like” button, letting its members use emoji to express themselves with a couple of keystrokes.
The test, which began Thursday in Ireland and Spain, allows users to respond to posts using emoji that demonstrate six new reactions: “angry,” “sad,” “wow,” “haha,” “yay” and “love.” By holding down the “like” icon, the new options appear.
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in September that the company had been working on alternatives to “like,” especially to help users express sympathy when the reaction isn’t appropriate. The company had long been asked for a “dislike” button, but wanted to avoid something that negative.
“We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun,” Chris Cox, the company’s chief product officer, said in a post on his Facebook page. “We’ll use the feedback from this to improve the feature and hope to roll it out to everyone soon.”
The “like” feature was conceived in 2007 as an “awesome” button before rolling out to users in 2009 as “an easy way to tell friends that you like what they’re sharing on Facebook with one easy click.” The button and its thumbs-up icon have since become a universal symbol for the social network itself, helping the company’s 1.49 billion users acknowledge friends’ milestones or express their affinity for a brand or cause. They have also helped Facebook build its advertising model, since a “like” may send a stronger message than a simple click.