You might want to avoid Facebook's new reaction buttons, police warn
Published 13/05/2016 | 15:11
Belgian Police have warned residents not to use Facebook's Reactions feature in order to avoid handing the network more personal information advert targeting.
The Federal Police said the new option, which was introduced in February, will be used to gauge the effectiveness of adverts on users' profiles.
"If it appears that you are in good spirits, Facebook will infer that you are receptive and will be able to sell advertising space by explaining to the advertisers that they are more likely in that way that you will react," the police said in a statement. "One more reason therefore to not rush to click if you want to protect your privacy".
By limiting the responses to a post to six emotions: which the social networks calls “Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry”, Facebook's algorithms are able to measure your reactions more effectively, it claimed.
Hovering over one of the options animates them – the “Haha” face laughs, for example – and releasing your thumb on mobiles or clicking on desktop selects that particular reaction. Facebook said it had previously tested a "yay" reaction, but removed it after testing showed that users did not take to it.
Facebook has been struggling with how to represent more complex emotions ever since launching the “like” button in 2009. Many people will want to express sympathy with a status about a relationship breakup or family tragedy, for example, but not to approve of the event with the like button.
The company has acknowledged how data gathered from user emotions represents key marketing opportunities for businesses, and as benchmarks for brand loyalty.
“We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook,” it said. At present, it registers any reaction the same way it does a "like".