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The real reason Facebook added six emojis and not a 'Dislike' button
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Expressing yourself on another persons Facebook status just got a whole lot easier. - photo by Herb Scribner
Expressing yourself on another persons Facebook status just got a whole lot easier.

According to WIRED, Facebook has begun testing emoji reactions to statuses through six emojis that cover a range of emotions beyond what a simple thumb can.

The new emojis will include reactions such as Like, Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad and Angry all of which allow users to show empathy, something Facebook has long encouraged.

These buttons come about a month after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was exploring the possibility of something like a Dislike button, WIRED reported.

Reports on the day of that announcement said the new feature would likely be an empathy button a way to acknowledge significant life events when you see bad news from a friend on your feed, like a breakup or a natural disaster, without appearing to endorse them, according to WIRED.

These new emojis fit that model.

As you can see, its not a dislike button, wrote Facebooks chief product officer Chris Cox in a Facebook post, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly. We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun.

The decision to use emojis came from Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebooks news feed, and his team, according to Bloomberg. When trying to figure out the emoji that should accompany the Like feature, Mosseri and his team consulted sociologists and researchers about human emotions, Bloomberg reported.

The team also looked at Facebook data specifically emojis, stickers and keywords to see which emotions people expressed most, Bloomberg reported.

Hearts were everywhere, Mosseri told Bloomberg. Sometimes it was heart eyes. Sometimes it was a heart beating out of a chest.

A Dislike button, they said, wouldnt work as well since it might inject negativity into a social network fueled by baby photos and videos of corgis waddling at the beach, Bloomberg reported.

Facebook and social media have been known to inspire negative emotions among people. Research indicates that Facebook often encourages depression, makes users unhappy and may even encourage narcissism.

Social media, in general, has been linked to similar issues. For example, a 2015 study from The Ohio State University found that men who post selfies of themselves on social media also reported higher levels of narcissism and psychopathy, according to The Huffington Post.

"That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity," the study's lead author, Jesse Fox, said in a statement, HuffPost reported. They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don't want to spend time editing."

And social media trolls negativity spreaders on the Internet are also more likely to show signs of narcissism and psychopathy, according to a 2014 study from the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation," Jennifer Golbeck wrote for Psychology Today. "Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate and offend to get a response.

Despite these negatives of social media, research shows Facebook is one social network that encourages empathy, according to The New York Times Teddy Wayne something that may only increase with the new emojis.

One reason we may condemn social media for its narcissism is because we view it as a monolith, when there are numerous subcategories of its use, Wayne wrote. There is a great difference, for instance, between posting a dozen selfies at a rooftop party versus linking to a charitys donation page and writing a personal statement about the cause.

As Wayne reported, a 2014 study from the University of North Florida found Facebook may encourage some aspects of empathy in contrast to previous reports.

The study, which looked at Facebook data private messages and comments from unmarried Facebook users found men and women show high levels of perspective taking the ability to identify with anothers situation, The Times reported.

Men showed higher levels of perspective taking than women, since they often identified with other users personal stories. Women in the study, though, showed higher levels of empathy overall.

This suggests, according to The Times, that Facebook interaction may increase our empathy since it puts us in the shoes of another.

In face-to-face connections, you tend to stay with people youre most familiar with or have most in common with, Tracy Alloway, lead author of the paper, told The Times. But Facebook can break down those boundaries. We can be exposed to different ways of thinking and emotional situations. On a somewhat superficial level, individuals disclose things about themselves, and that facilitates maybe not a deep sense of closeness, but the next time you see them, you may feel you know them a little better.