Even when Mark Zuckerberg first brought up the “Dislike” button almost a month ago, he made clear that it wouldn’t be an actual dislike button – that would cause too much controversy or confusion. Instead, he wanted the feature to focus on sympathy and feelings, emotions that could be transmitted on the fly.
Introducing Facebook Reactions, a set of emoticons that serve as shorthand for comments. Facebook analyzed popular one-word responses to statuses, such as Haha, yay, wow, sad and made them into reactions. Facebook also used data from stickers, which contains data on “emotional sentiments,” part of the reason why search functions in stickers is so useful.
To use the feature, you long-press the like button until the six reactions pop up, and you choose one from there. Posts now show reaction counts alongside the number of comments — 10 likes, four wows, two hahas, and so on.
Reactions is only available in Ireland and Spain right now, because “they have no friends in other countries.”
The Verge says, “For a company of Facebook’s size, testing a feature like reactions with small groups is tricky. If I can react to your post with ahaha, but you can’t see my haha because you’re not in the test group, Facebook is effectively broken. That’s why Facebook tests features in countries where most of its users don’t have friends outside the country. Ireland and Spain are relatively isolated in this way, and that’s why they’re getting reactions first.”
The feature won’t be released to other countries until it’s fully fleshed out in Ireland and Spain, and even then, it’s hard to say when it will come to the US.