Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Facebook just announced something fans have been wanting for a long time: in addition to the ubiquitous “like” button, fans will have other icons to express emotions. The new emoji, designed after months of research to find expressions that would work globally, include surprise, anger, love, laughter, sadness and a supportive cheer. Although many users have lobbied for a “dislike” button, Facebook declined to add one. The tests in Spain and Ireland are just the first of a round before the emoji are widely released.

According to The New York Times, as more users access Facebook via mobile phone, which makes it harder to type comments, the need to add emoji became more pressing. Adam Mosseri, in charge of Facebook’s News Feed, says the tests in Ireland and Spain will enable the company to “evaluate how people in those two countries use the new buttons” and then tweak them before the rollout is expanded.

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Choosing which emoji to use was the focus of a scientific study, says Mosseri, who notes that the goal is to allow people to express themselves without posting a comment.

Bloomberg reports the company consulted with sociologists “about the range of human emotion” and crunched a lot of data before the decision was made. That included assembling “all those emoji, stickers, and keywords that people use in daily comments, posts, and mood updates” and analyzing which were the most popular.

“We wanted to make it easier,” Mosseri says. “When things are easier to do, they reach more people, and more people engage with them.”

Bloomberg notes that the emoji that Facebook has chosen are “similar to the reaction buttons that social network Path has been offering since 2012,” and that Apple software already has “hundreds of emoji.”