Facebook Reactions: Innovation Or Crap?


On February 24th Facebook gave its users five new ways to respond to posts. Now, instead of merely liking that pro-Bernie Sanders post from the guy in your Intro to Creative Writing class, you can love, laugh, cry, be wowed, or angered by it. Facebook is calling this new function “Reactions.” Responses to the update have been mixed and more nuanced than any of the five new buttons allow for.

Notably, people have been discussing how Reactions are affecting online journalism (which is almost a redundant term at this point). When NYU Local posts an article about NYU hiring a construction company it is also suing, is it appropriate to love that? Is it chill to give people the power to “ha ha” an article about #FreeKesha? I don’t have the answers, so I asked my fellow writers here at NYU Local for their takes.

“I think the thing with the new FB reactions for me is just that like, I didn’t need any of these. I didn’t need a “wow!” Or a ❤️. I needed a thumbs down button to inform my friends from high school that I DO NOT LIKE their thoughts on SO MANY things and none of the new emojis are a dislike button. Writing this has made me realize my quality of life would significantly increase if I just deleted my Facebook account.” — Addy Baird, On-Campus Editor

“I think it works really well in the case of tragedy and that was probably Facebook’s primary motivator. My friend recently posted about a death in her family and a lot of people used “sad” and “love.” I’m always torn liking those because you want to show support and even just acknowledgment but it’s not like you liked what happened. I think Facebook’s trying to allow for more empathy.” — Freia Lobo, On-Campus Writer

“I wouldn’t mind it so much if the icons weren’t so ugly.” — Kari Sonde, City Writer

“The thing that I think is most interesting about the new reactions are what they do to analytics. From a social media standpoint, tracking likes/shares/views is pretty straightforward in analyzing what links “did well” on a site. If you add more ways to interact with a post, it makes tracking what “did well” and what “did not do well” more difficult I think. But on the flip side, only having the “like” option didn’t necessarily show how users felt about links all that well in the first place, because you only really feel “like” should like something if you feel positively about it.” — Peter Slattery, City Editor

“I agree that it works well in the case of tragedy and situations where it’s uncomfortable to throw someone a “like” (e.g., death), but I also think the options are pretty limited.According to this Wired article (linked above) Facebook is trying to “keep the platform positive,” which explains why we didn’t get a dislike button or something similar. But a dislike button would’ve been SO MUCH BETTER. Also I can’t think of a single situation where I would earnestly use “wow!”” — Gaby Del Valle, writer

“What I liked about the “like” was its flexibility. It could mean “I like this,” or “I agree with this,” or “I am flagging this for others because it’s important,” or (in conversations with your relatives on Facebook) “I am signaling the end of the conversation by acknowledging this without replying.” If someone “liked” an article on a difficult topic, I would understand it to be a comment on the article, not on its subject matter. Now there’s a whole new layer of internet communication sludge for everyone misinterpret. On the bright side, though, maybe the new range of expression will dissuade some people from leaving abusive comments. Maybe people will hit the “angry” button instead of commenting “HOW IS THIS EVEN AN ‘ARTICLE’!?” or looking up an author and sending them dick pics. Options!” — Kelly Weill, Editor-in-Chief

So there you have it. If I could I would likelovehahawowsadangry all of these, but you can only do one, so I’ll pick love.

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