How Much Do You Remember about the History of Facebook's Reactions?
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How Much Do You Remember about the History of Facebook's Reactions?
Breanne Bannon
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How Much Do You Remember about the History of Facebook's Reactions?

Very young officemates may think Facebook always had a choice of reactions, but it was only eight years ago that “Like” reigned supreme. Take a stroll down Facebook’s Memory Lane with me:

It was February of 2016 when five new reactions – the formal name for those little emojis at the bottom of every Facebook post – officially joined “Like.” Users now had a choice between the generic “Like” and “Love,” “HaHa,” “Wow,” “Sad,” or “Angry.’ For over a year, Facebook had been toying with options for building on the ‘like’ button.  Facebook’s solution seemed to cover a lot of bases. 

When I wrote about the new reaction emojis back in 2016, I shared a quote from Facebook’s product manager Sammi Krug who said:

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.

Reportedly, posts that received reactions were ranked five times higher than those that received a simple “Like.” Even back in 2016 people thought this might lead to trouble – and it did.

A Washington Post article stated that there was concern that “‘controversial’ posts – including those that make users angry – could open ‘the door to more spam/abuse/clickbait inadvertently.’” A 2019 data report showed that posts with angry reactions – the ones getting preferential treatment for sharing by Facebook’s algorithm – were more likely to contain toxicity, low-quality news, and misinformation.

Facebook has been criticized for not doing enough to tone down the toxicity and over the years they have tried different tools to weed out and limit the spread of particularly inflammatory posts and rabble-rousing misinformation with mixed success.

In 2024, AI is being used to fill your Facebook feed. The idea is that no one can consume all of the content that is being generated, so they will show you more of what you seem to want, based on what you engaged with in the past. They also want to show you the best of what you prefer, and to do that, they rank each post on, among other things, how many reactions it is given by other users.

You may have noticed a few paragraphs back that I said five new reactions joined the “Like” button, but there are actually six reactions on your Facebook page today. The “Care” reaction, a smiley face hugging a heart, was added four years ago in April of 2020. Remember when clicking buttons on our computers was one of the very few ways we could tell people that we cared?

Looking back is fun, but there is a business lesson to be learned here as well: It’s all about engagement! Posting consistently, trying new techniques, and working from past data can help improve your Facebook engagement, both paid and unpaid. The Sprocket team has worked with Facebook posting and advertising for years, so if you’d like to unload this task on us, just give us a call!

This article is an update to “Facebook Adds Emoji ‘Reactions’ to ‘Like’ Button” dated 2/25/2016.

 

Photo by Pixabay

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Breanne Bannon

Breanne BannonBreanne Bannon

Breanne is a Content Writer, Social Media Marketeer, and Sales Associate for Sprocket Websites.

Other posts by Breanne Bannon
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