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Facebook Are Changing the Way Reactions Influence Your News Feed

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Prepare to feel the gentle ache of entropy - we've had Facebook reactions on our feeds for a whole year. It wasn't that long ago that people were still bellyaching about the lack of a 'dislike' button, and now anyone can register their disapproval of a Facebook post with a sad or angry face, or just mock it with the laughing face.

Beyond that, it really hasn't made Facebook all that different, but upcoming tweaks may significantly alter the way our news feeds deliver information. At the moment, reactions and likes are evenly weighted, meaning that if you react to a post, it's the same as liking it, as far as the algorithms are concerned. Soon though, reactions will carry more heft than likes do.

The way Facebook see it, if a user takes the time to react to a post, it must mean that they're more interested in it than if they merely liked it. Speaking from experience, I definitely have a lot more interest in a post if I smash the 'love' reaction, but that kind of goes without saying. It's when you consider the negative reactions that things get interesting.

It stands to reason that if you react with the angry or sad face, you don't actually like the post in question, or something about it, so why would you want to see it more? Well, if you took the time to react, it means that, despite not liking the content on display (most likely an article or news share), you were still interested in it. This could, in theory, act as a counteractive measure against the 'echo chamber' effect Facebook is frequently accused of having.

It could also mean that sponsored pages start publishing more controversial content in the hopes of gaining a broader range of reactions, and thus getting pushed up the algorithm counter, making Facebook's news feed even murkier and less trustworthy than it already was. It's worth remembering that when reactions are measured up, they aren't weighted in terms of positivity and negativity, just how many, and how long they took to accumulate. Facebook cannot tell that people were angry about something, as such, and they don't particularly want to.

Of course, if you really want to rally against something you saw on Facebook, the best thing you can do is pay it no mind at all. If, however, you want to promote a piece of content, finding ways to encourage people to react rather than just liking is a good bet. Many pages opt for the 'vote by reaction' approach, but that's already getting a bit stale. The best thing we can really hope for here is that brands start using reactions a bit more imaginatively.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Facebook Are Changing the Way Reactions Influence Your News Feed Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, March 02, 2017 Rating: 5

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