Could Using Facebook’s Reaction Buttons Compromise Your Privacy?

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 13, 2016 Updated: May 13, 2016

Facebook introduced “reactions” in February 2016, rolled out in response to the virtually incessant call for a “dislike” button ever since the now-iconic “Like” was introduced in 2009. 

The five new expressions represent Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. These allow users to express their reactions to photos, videos, and posts in more detail—not a lot more detail, but certainly more than the a mysterious “thumbs-up.” 

However, Belgium’s federal police force has warned its citizens against using the new reaction buttons.

Help define Facebook's new 'Reaction' emojis.
Help define Facebook’s new ‘Reaction’ emojis.

“As you know, we are a product for Facebook,” states a post on the police’s official website on May 11 statement.

“The icons help not only to express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile,” the post says.

“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective. A mouse click can let them know what makes you happy.”

“If it appears that you are in a good mood” the police force claims, “Facebook will infer that you are more susceptible to advertisement and will be able to sell advertising space to marketers by telling them they have a better chance to get you to react at certain times.”

This, however alarming it may sound, is not a new revelation. Facebook has been selling its data to advertisers since the advent of the site. 

And commentators have been writing about it for the same length of time. 

Facebook states quite clearly in its private policy that: “We use the information we have to improve our advertising and measurement systems so we can show you relevant ads on and off our Services and measure the effectiveness and reach of ads and services.”

What do you think? Will you continue to use Facebook’s new reaction buttons? 

Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca