Facebook announced Wednesday that it is rolling out its Reactions feature across the globe, giving everyone a chance to express a broader range of emotions beyond the "Like."
As the company first promised in October, users now have the option to respond to a post with one of the following emotions: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.
The governing idea behind Reactions is that people don't always want "Like" to be their reaction to a post. If you want to show your sympathy for a friend who just lost his dog, for example, it never felt quite right to "like" a tribute post to his pup. (Of course, one could argue that is what comments are for.) It can also, of course, provide Facebook with more nuanced data about what you actually mean when you "like" a post — valuable information for its ever-advancing algorithms.
In a company blog post, Facebook said that Reactions will work the same for Facebook Pages -- community or brand pages often set up for professional reasons -- and will change nothing about the way the network measures the engagement of posts. "Page owners will be able see Reactions to all of their posts on Page insights," the post said. "Reactions will have the same impact on ad delivery as likes."
The feature has been in testing for months in different regions of the world, including Ireland, Spain, Japan and Portugal, where Facebook took surveys and gathered information on how people actually use the feature. But Facebook gave it the go-ahead Wednesday for all of its users. The feature is automatically activated for Web users; mobile users should be able to use it once their Facebook app gets an update.
Using Reactions is pretty simple — you seem to just tap and hold the Like button to call up the other emotions. In Facebook's words:
To add a reaction, hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over the Like button on desktop to see the reaction image options, then tap either Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.
What will be interesting to watch is how people actually use the new emotions now that they're open to everyone. Facebook hasn't released data on how the tests have gone in other countries — though one planned reaction, the "Yay," seems to have disappeared over the course of testing — so we don't actually know how these have been received by actual Facebook users, or if users are creating secret double meanings to some of the new emoticons. We'll just have to wait and see.
Still, if you've ever felt emotionally stunted on Facebook, this is a great day for you.