It's been one year since Facebook redesigned its hallmark like button and added a suite of emoji reactions, and now the company is changing how the feature impacts users' news feeds.
For the past 12 months Facebookers have been able to react to updates, articles, photos, videos and branded content using icons which represent a range of emotions from 'love' to 'haha' and 'anger', but the social network is now rejigging the way it weighs reactions to surface content.
"Over the past year we've found that if people leave a reaction on a post, it is an even stronger signal that they'd want to see that type of post than if they left a like on the post," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "So we are updating News Feed to weigh reactions a little more than likes when taking into account how relevant the story is to each person."
This move means that alternatives to the classic thumbs up button will be prioritised by Facebook when it ranks a user's news feed. The company will see reactions as stronger indicators of what people want to see, read or watch than plain likes.
Digital Trends reports that Facebook is putting more prominence on the way it measures reactions because it takes subscribers longer to select one than it would for them to hit the like button, showing a considered engagement. It adds that Facebook won't take into account the type of reaction, whether its positive or negative, and all emojis will be weighted the same as one another.
Facebook said users have expressed themselves through reactions over 300bn times in the past year, noting that the most popular icon was the heart emoji. The company claimed that beyond the standard like button, the heart icon accounted for over half of reactions used throughout the entirety of 2016. Christmas day marked the highest number of reactions over 24 hours, with the love reaction triumphing.
When Facebook first unveiled reactions it said it would have the same impact on ad delivery as likes, and that it hoped to boost the feature's targeting capabilities by tailoring posts to users by ranking the different emojis they clicked.