Facebook Talked a Professor Into Helping Build a Better Emoticon

Science, that's what's up.

(Photo: screencap)
(Photo: screencap)

Heedlessly disregarding the bad luck of looking anything like MySpace, Facebook (META) recently added the option of emoticons for status updates. But, according to Popular Science, the social network couldn’t simply use the same smiley faces that’ve done the Internet perfectly good for more than a decade. No, besides the old standbys you’ll have the option of expressing your feelings with a custom-designed, “compassion-research-based set of emoticons.”

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Hey, we’re willing to try anything that’ll keep drama out of our News Feed.

It all started with Facebook grasping for ways to deal with interpersonal issues–think pissy complaints from users whose “friends” wouldn’t remove unflattering Facebook photos. Facebook engineer Arturo Bejar asked psychology professor Dacher Keltner to help out with ways to encourage “more compassionate communication.”

Yeah, Facebook got a professor to help Facebook understand emotions… so Facebook could create better emoticons.

And so:

“There’s all this communication that happens when you’re talking to someone face-to-face–you can see that they’re nodding and you can see their smile–that is not present when you’re communicating electronically,” Bejar explains. “One of the questions that we asked was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a better emoticon that was informed by science?'”

So they took the 50 emotion states outlined in a 19th century work by Charles Darwin and hired a Pixar illustrator to create a smiley that conveyed every one.

Hello and welcome to the future!

Facebook Talked a Professor Into Helping Build a Better Emoticon