If you value your privacy, maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to use Facebook’s new Reactions to respond to posts. That’s the word out this morning, anyway. The Belgian Police service have just put out a statement warning citizens not to use the new icons.
They claim that Facebook is using the Reactions to gather more detailed information about users and decide how best to advertise to them.
“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more clearly so that their algorithms can be made more effective. You are letting them know what makes you happy with every click of the mouse.
If it appears that you are in a good mood, Facebook will decide that you are receptive and will be able to sell more ads by explaining to advertisers that you are more likely to respond to their messaging,” the police said in their statement.
Essentially, your ‘reactions’ can indicate your mood – and interests – which can be used for targeting advertisements towards you – and in setting your monetary value as a target for advertisers.
“One more reason therefore to not rush to click if you want to protect your privacy,” concluded the police statement.
The Reactions icons were introduced as an alternative to the ubiquitous ‘Like’ button and its thumbs up symbol. Users had been clamoring for a ‘dislike’ option to react negatively to posts, something Facebook has resisted.
Still the original ‘Like’ button’s monopoly on reacting to friend’s posts was problematic. For example, it was awkward to show solidarity with a connection who wrote a mourning post for a recently deceased pet. You wanted to show that you had seen their update and were feeling for them – without giving a ‘thumbs up’ to their dead dog.
The new Like, Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry icons do solve that problem.
But remember, Facebook is a giant information and advertising company (quite possibly bent on world domination), so everything you post, click on, or react to provides them with more in depth information to fine tune their advertising to you or sell to others. Proceed with caution.
Here is the full post from the Belgian police service. (It’s in Belgian, but I’ve used Google translate for the parts I quoted above.)
I originally found this story on the Independent.