Facebook Reactions Launches Globally

Facebook users are about to see a lot more emotions in their News Feeds.

Facebook users are about to see a lot more emotions in their News Feeds, as the social network announced the global launch of the Reactions extension to its like button via Android, iOS, desktop and mobile Web.

Facebook began testing Reactions in October after co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed during a town hall in September that the social network was working on ways for users to express emotions beyond the like button, although rabid speculation about a dislike button was soon quashed.

Holding down the like button on mobile devices or hovering over it on desktop will allow users to choose between like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry.

ReactionsGlobalLaunchLove ReactionsGlobalLaunchLove2 ReactionsGlobalLaunchSad ReactionsGlobalLaunchSad2

Product manager Sammi Krug said in a Newsroom post announcing the global rollout:

Every day, people come to Facebook to discover what’s happening in their world and around the world, and to share all kinds of things, whether that’s updates that are happy, sad, funny or thought-provoking. News Feed is the central way you can get updates about your friends, family and anything else that matters to you, and the central place to have conversations with the people you care about. We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel. That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.

We understand that this is a big change, and we want to be thoughtful about rolling this out. For more than one year, we have been conducting global research, including focus groups and surveys, to determine what types of reactions people would want to use most. We also looked at how people are already commenting on posts and the top stickers and emoticons as signals for the types of reactions people are already using to determine which reactions to offer.

Krug also addressed the impact that the rollout of Reactions would have on News Feed and pages in a separate Newsroom post:

Our goal with News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post. In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post—we will initially use any Reaction similar to a like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. 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.

We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook. Page owners will be able to see Reactions to all of their posts on page insights. Reactions will have the same impact on ad delivery as likes. We will spend time learning from this rollout and use feedback to improve. Overall, pages should continue to post things that their audience finds meaningful and continue using our page post best practices.

The Reactions feature has come a long way since Zuckerberg’s comments during a Sept. 15 Q&A at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., when he said in response to a question about the social network launching a dislike button:

People have asked about the dislike button for many years, and probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.

We don’t want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people’s posts. That doesn’t seem like the kind of community we want to create: You don’t want to go through the process of sharing some moment that was important to you in your day and have someone “downvote” it.

If you are sharing something that is sad … then it may not feel comfortable to like that post.

At an earlier town hall Q&A, in December 2014, Zuckerberg said of the dislike button:

We’re thinking about it. It’s an interesting question. There are two things it could mean, and we’re considering and talking about doing one and not the other. The like button is really valuable because it’s a way for you to very quickly express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there and shares something. Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say, “That thing isn’t good.” That’s not something that we think is good. We’re not going to build that, and I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism on Facebook about whether posts are good or bad. I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community to help people share the important moments in their lives.

The thing I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express than just positivity or that they like something. A lot of times, people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives, or that are tough cultural or social things, and often, people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing like, because like isn’t the appropriate sentiment when someone lost a loved one or is talking about a very difficult issue.

I think giving people the power to do that in more ways, with more emotions, would be powerful, but we need to figure out the right way to do it so that it ends up being a force for good, and not a force for bad and demeaning the posts people put out there.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the global launch of Reactions? Like, love, haha, wow, sad or angry?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.