Facebook is adding a seventh “reaction” button on its platform allowing more than 2 billion global users to indicate the emotion being stirred up by COVID-19.
The “Care Reaction,” as the company calls it, shows a heart being hugged. It will sit next to others indicating anger, sadness, love and other emotions in response to posts, comments, images, videos, or other content. It will start rolling out next week, along with a parallel effort on Facebook Messenger. On Messenger, the button can be accessed by pressing and holding down the “heart” button.
In a tweet, Facebook tech communications manager Alexandru Voica called it “a way for people to share their support with one another during this unprecedented time.”
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Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, told USA Today the new emoji is “for when a regular heart does not feel like enough.”
Adding additional emojis to the platform had already been under consideration before the virus hit early this year, Simo said. And certainly the singular experience the world is having with the virus didn’t entirely align with the six previously available reactions.
“This current crisis really shows a range of people struggling with very different kinds of things,” she said. “People who are sick or taking care of sick ones. People who are losing their jobs. People who are stuck at home home-schooling their kids. Everyone right now has something in their lives that requires support.”
Facebook has made the emojis available for the past four years, after expanding the original thumbs-up “like” button. The tech giant uses data from the reactions to guide decision-making, especially in the advertising arena. The company will report quarterly earnings on April 29, and many Wall Street analysts are expecting record usage metrics given how many people around the world remain under stay-at-home orders.
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