Facebook is rolling out a trial version of a new feature that let users select emotions and icons to depict what they’re doing. They include things like reading, drinking, eating, watching, and listening to. After the user selects what they’re doing, they can select exactly what they’re doing. Like, say, if they’re watching Breaking Bad, or drinking Folger’s Coffee, or eating Blue Bunny ice cream. The feature is a fun blast to the past to the days of MySpace and instant messaging, though the site may have an ulterior motive: to gather even more information on the tastes of its vast 1 billion active user base.
“If you choose a particular pre-formatted emotion, piece of media, or food, Facebook could potentially use that behavior to pinpoint you with ads. If you listen to a Daft Punk song, it could target you with ads for their new album or [a] nearby concert,” wrote Tech Crunch’s Josh Constantine in January when the idea was first floated.
As pointed out in the Slate column, it’s almost impossible to analyze text-based updates and statuses on the scale that Facebook receives them. However, these emoticons and icons will allow users to speak their minds on Facebook’s terms, giving them both total access to the data and a much easier way to analyze it. Do you think these emoticons will catch on, or will they be rejected by Facebook’s user base?