Facebook’s Next-Generation “Like” Button to express emotions beyond “like”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook during a town hall question-and-answer session at Facebook’s headquarters in September, had said that the company was working on ways for users to express a different reaction beyond “liking” a post.

The company has finally rolled out a broader range of clickable emoticons that can be used to show empathy with or displeasure in a Facebook post. In other words, it is more like an extension of the ubiquitous Like button that summarizes the reaction of the readers, although a more extensive one.

In addition to the well-worn thumbs up, Facebook is now testing out six emojis to express “reactions” such as love, laughter, happiness, surprise, sadness and anger.

Facebook tells us that the pop-up feature will first start out as a test in two markets only, Spain and Ireland, before it decides whether to tweak it and/or how to roll it out further.

“We’re excited to start this test, but understand that this is a big change, and one that we want to make sure to get right,” wrote Facebook product manager Chris Tosswill. Users in these two countries “will be able to react to any post across Facebook – a post from a friend, advertiser, publisher or business.”

“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years, and probably hundreds of people have asked about this,” Zuckerberg said during its public Q&A, “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.”

The company has resisted developing a “dislike” button for years because CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not want to epitomize the up vote/down vote systems in different online communities, such as the Reddit community.

The new Reactions feature will hopefully be able to allow users to express their thoughts that is beyond a singular Like button. As Zuckerberg said, not every moment is a good moment, and such events are not something that users can just generally express the proper emotions with a Like button.

So how’d they come up with this select range of emotions? Chief Product Officer Chris Cox explained in a Facebook post: “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.”

So, what’s the reason for choosing those two countries? Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s director of product, says it’s because both have largely national user bases without extensive international friend networks, so they work better as closed test groups. Ireland is English speaking, while Spain lets Facebook test out how well the wordless emoji play with non-English users.

In order to see the buttons — which are available in the iPhone, Android and desktop versions of Facebook used in Ireland and Spain — users can either long-press or hover over the “Like” button. The buttons will then appear for users to scroll through and select.

Tosswill explained that the new ‘reactions’ will help the company to filter the posts that appear in users’ newsfeeds.

“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,” Tosswill explained.

“We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook,” he said.

“We will spend time learning from this initial roll-out.”