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Questions I Have About Facebook Reactions


After using Facebook Reactions for two days now (after writing about it on Wednesday), I find myself overall pleased with the ability to do more than just "Like" a post. Sure, I would like more "reactions" (most notably the ability to leave a "WTF" reaction to most current political posts!) but I also understand the need of the designers to limit the choices. (This Wired article had some good insight into the design challenges.)

But now I find myself wondering:

1. Will this change DECREASE the number of text comments?

Previously because the only option was to "like" a post, if there was one that was sad (ex. death of a loved one or pet) I would often write something. Now there is the option to choose "Sad". Ditto for the other reactions.

2. Will this change INCREASE the number of interactions?

On the other hand, now you do have options when you don't want to "like" a post but just don't know what to say in words. Previously you might have NOT engaged with the post at all. Now you could choose a reaction as a way of interacting. As a friend wrote on Facebook:

now people who weren't going to take the time to write out a text comment anyway will be able to at least express something because they now have a choice other than just like or nothing.

3. Will Facebook share the Reactions data with Page administrators?

For Facebook Pages, when we go into the "Insights" area, will we be able to see the different "reactions" to a post? I suspect the answer is "yes", but on any of the Pages for which I am an administrator I haven't yet seen people using Reactions. (I imagine I'll be able to answer this myself in a little while as people use the reactions more.)

4. How well will the use of these reactions enable Facebook to target advertising?

Let's be clear, rolling out these reactions helps Facebook in a massive way with being able to better target you for advertising. If you previously "liked" a post about, oh, kale ... but in truth were only doing it because you liked that the person shared the post, Facebook might have interpreted that as support and showed you ads about kale.

Now you can choose "Angry" as a reaction to any article about kale, which Facebook could then use to NOT show you positive ads about kale, but perhaps instead ads for the "kale-haters" club or something like that.

(I should note that I can't recall ever actually clicking on an ad in Facebook, but maybe some day I will.)

5. Will Facebook use the Reactions information to tweak what is displayed in our NewsFeed?

For instance, if I use an Angry reaction for every political article about Donald Trump, will Facebook change my NewsFeed to show me fewer Trump articles? (But what if I like being angry?)

There seems like there could be a great possibility for manipulation of the NewsFeed and thus of people's emotions. (As Facebook did as a test back in 2012.)

6. Will Facebook provide information to the public about the use of Reactions?

Will Facebook ever provide some aggregate data about how people are using Reactions? For instance the number of posts with each reaction... or the percentages of usage of the different reactions?

Facebook obviously has the capacity to gather all this data on a truly massive scale. It would be great if at some point they could provide some views into what kind of usage they are seeing.

Obviously question #3 I may soon be able to answer myself, but the others are ones that I'll continue to wonder about.

What about you? What do you think about Facebook Reactions? What questions do you have?

An audio commentary on this topic is available: