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Facebook's New 'Reactions' Draw Criticism from Cara Delevingne

When Facebook released their new range of emotional 'reactions', designed to enhance the platform's 'like' feature, they were generally well received. But, as child safety and well being online continues to be an issue in an increasingly digital world, supermodel-turned-actress Cara Delevingne has spoken out against them.

In a recent interview with Sunday Times Style, Delevingne suggested that the new reactions, which include Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, could spark yet another wave of cyber-bullying, as instant, negative sentiments could allow bullies to flood their victims' posts with what is essentially the world's laziest put-down.

Although the Suicide Squad star was critical of the new system in general, its was the rumours of a 'dislike' button further down the line that really worried her:

“If you can go around disliking someone's pictures, that is going to set off a whole new wave of bullying. These companies are making so much money, they just want the new thing." 

"If it's something that is going to cause people harm, I really think we should steer against that. 'Like' away but if you have a bad thought about someone, keep it to yourself.”

Delevingne's statements echo initial concerns over the implementation of a 'dislike' button. While that exact option has yet to become available, some of the current options could still be used to target vulnerable people online. For me, however, the potential for bullying is just one of the problems with the new 'reactions' system.

The other problem I perceive stemming from this is the gradual dumbing down of online society and conversation. By allowing just about any response to be simplified into a one-click emoji, real conversation is slowly dying. Slang and abbreviations are one thing, on the most part designed simply to cut down on character count, but emojis replace the written language entirely. I know I'm getting a bit carried away here, but if this trend carries on like it is we could all be talking in hieroglyphs before we know it. We've already had an emoji named as 'Word of the Year', because that makes sense, right?

The diversity of language allows for unparalleled levels of expression, debate and constructive thought. These processes cannot be replaced by a 'Haha' face, no matter how hard Facebook try. So I genuinely worry, whenever this kind of update is released for such a popular platform, if we are heading for a world where the art-form of the written word is all but gone, leaving gifs and disembodied yellow faces to dominate all of our communication.

So, if a post from a friend genuinely evokes a passionate response, tell them, properly. If a post makes you sad, a short comment could start a helpful discussion about why, and questioning ideas in comments rather than simply slapping on an 'angry' reaction may help you to see the other side of the argument.

Your opinion is not generic, your response shouldn't be either.

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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Facebook's New 'Reactions' Draw Criticism from Cara Delevingne Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, March 01, 2016 Rating: 5

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