Emily Baines
February 24, 2016 1:25 pm
Facebook

I can count on multiple hands the number of times I have read a friend’s Facebook post only to want to post some sort of acknowledgement other than a “like.” For example, I’m not going to “like” someone’s sad news about a break up or a conflict with their boss. While various users have begged for a “dislike” or “down vote” button a la Reddit, Facebook has responded by rolling out a set of like button alternatives called “Reactions.”

The five “Reactions” — Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry — appear when you hold down the Like button for about a half second on your mobile device, or hover over it on a laptop or desktop.

HelloGiggles

Facebook’s researchers, engineers, and product teams spent over a year preparing Reactions for public use. They worked with sociologists, consulted focus groups, and conducted multiple surveys to determine which emotions would make the final cut. Researches also studied the most popular Facebook stickers and emojis.

According to product manager Sammi Krug, narrowing down the set of possible responses and making sure the emoji faces would be “universally understood and equally useful” were the biggest challenges. “We wanted to be really, really careful about which reactions we [launched],” she told CNNMoney in an interview last week. “Are we giving people more tools to express themselves more accurately and authentically?”

Before Wednesday’s global release, Reactions was already live for Facebook users in countries such as Spain, Chile, Ireland, and the Philippines. Initial reactions to Reactions has been positive, according to Krug, and “Love” has been the most popular. Awww. That makes my heart happy to read!

For those of you who are unhappy with the six options, never fear. “This is just the beginning,” Facebook engineering director Tom Alison told BuzzFeed News. “The team is still going to be looking at how people are using this. We’re going to be learning a lot. We’re going to be iterating on this.”

According to Alison, Facebook will count each reaction in the same way it counts likes in its News Feed algorithm. This doesn’t mean the algorithm won’t change over time.

Until then, I’m excited to try the “Wow” Reaction for my friend’s latest Facebook post regarding her child’s amazing somersault across their dinner table. Guys, it’s a really impressive somersault.

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