Last Sunday I appeared as a guest on Sunday Social with Vaughn Davis on Radio Live.
Among other things, we chatted about Facebook’s new Reactions buttons.
There’s been a great amount of discussion about the need for a dislike or thumbs-down button on Facebook.
One of the limitations of Facebook has always been the lack of something other than just a “like” to express your feelings about someone’s post.
For example, imagine a friend shares this on Facebook: “What a rough week – my dog died, my partner left me and my car got stolen.”
How do you respond to show your support? Certainly, not with a like!
That might look that you like that all this bad fortune had befallen your friend.
But at the same time a choice between a like or dislike button is just too binary. You really want something that says “Ahh mate!” or “Gutted”, but without having to leave an actual comment.
To address this need Facebook is now testing a set of new buttons to show your feelings to your friends’ posts.
There’s still not a dislike button, but six emoji-based icons which express a range of emotions – from love, laughter to sadness and anger.
But don’t look for them on your feed just yet – they’re still only being tested in only two places Spain and Ireland. Facebook says it chose these countries as people’s networks there do not extend far beyond their national borders, so it can test the Reactions buttons in relatively closed groups.
So why no dislike button?
One reason Facebook would not be keen on introducing a dislike button is how it can be used against brands on the platform. Facebook wants to encourage more businesses to use the network as way to sell advertising. So if each post by a brand gets bombarded by dislikes, businesses would soon abandon the Facebook Pages.
Are emoji the best way to go?
There’s no way on denying that emoji or smiley faces have become a big part of our language system, but one drawback is that they can be misinterpreted and it’s easy to use them in the wrong context.
Last week USA Today ran its front-page articles with emoji next to each article – presumably in an attempt to come across as being up with the trends.
A sad-faced crying emoji just looked out of place next a story with a headline like “US hero of French train attack stabbed”, and many people took offence.
The increasing use of symbols rather than words in our communications does beg a bigger question though – are our communication systems devolving?
Are we heading back to the age of hieroglyphics, or worse cave drawings?
Instead of words, will we end up just using symbols and pictures to say things like: “Here be gazelle”, “There be lions” or “Oh look a UFO!”…
You can download a podcast of the latest edition of Sunday Social on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/sunday-social-podcast/id883481142?i=354594494&mt=2