When is Facebook getting a new like button? Mark Zuckerberg says "reactions" coming soon

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Facebook Reactions Button Is Finally Headed to the U.S. In the "Next Few Weeks"

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox had a scheme for Facebook's signature Like button, a seemingly subtle feature that actually collects quite a bit of data from users on and off of Facebook's pages. The plan was to replace the button with a curated selection of reactions, which would allow users to more accurately communicate sentiments when responding to content on the social platform. Now, it looks like that pipe dream is just around the corner, according to a deep-diving exposé from Bloomberg Business.

Read more: Facebook Is Testing Reaction Emojis Instead of Dislike Button — Here's What They Look Like

Speaking to Bloomberg Business, Cox detailed the Like button revamp — mapping out the process beginning with the earliest phases of ideation. Cox told Bloomberg Business that it could arrive "In the next few weeks," though he qualified that by adding, "We roll things out very carefully. And that comes from a lot of lessons learned."

When Is Facebook Getting a New Like Button? Mark Zuckerberg Says "Reactions" Coming Soon
Source: AFP/Getty Images

Reports first surfaced in September that Facebook was considering the addition of a "Dislike" button, a decision the tech giant eventually moved away from. As it pivoted, it came to light that the company was working on something called Facebook "Reactions," which looks like a drop-down list of limited emotions to replace the single Like button.

Facebook researchers zeroed in on seven emoji "reactions" for users to choose from — "like," "love," "haha," "yay," "wow," "sad" and "angry." Yet the Yay button was ultimately rejected because "it was not universally understood," a spokesperson told Bloomberg Business.

Why this is a BFD: The fact that Facebook's diversifying the way it lets users react to content matters to those who care about the type of data Facebook collects. In September, MIT Technology Review's San Francisco bureau chief Tom Simonite reported that in a month's time, a switch would flip that would begin to transmit scores of Facebook user data — all through the company's Like button.

"Facebook first offered the Like button to publishers in 2010 as a way to help people tell friends and the company what was interesting," Simonite wrote. "The buttons take the form of a snippet of code to be added to a page. That code directs a person's browser to contact Facebook's servers, allowing them to know the page you're visiting, and to see the 'cookie' files that Facebook pushes to its users' browsers to identify them."

Facebook's Like button is not just contained to the social site. It lives on publishers' pages, and is affixed to countless online businesses, enterprises and retailers. That means that if you like a clothing line when browsing a retailer's web page, for example, Facebook can collect that data, which can them be used for targeted advertising.

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When is Facebook getting a new like button? Mark Zuckerberg says "reactions" coming soon
An unidentifed University of Missouri student looks through Facebook while in class Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006, on the Columbia, Mo. campus. Facebook, a popular online social network for students, has drawn the attention of several schools administrators and prospective employers to see what students are up to. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
**ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND FEB. 24-25** Facebook.com's mastermind, Mark Zuckerberg smiles at his office in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Feb. 5, 2007. He is sitting on a potential gold mine that could make him the next Silicon Valley whiz kid to strike it rich. But the 22-year-old founder of the Internet's second largest social-networking site also could turn into the next poster boy for missed opportunities if he waits too long to cash in on Facebook Inc., which is expected to generate revenue of more than $100 million this year. The bright outlook is one reason Zuckerberg felt justified spurning several takeover bids last year, including a $1 billion offer from Yahoo Inc. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
This photo photo provided by the Medill News Service shows a Facebook web page seen in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Medill, News Service, Lillian Cunningham)
FILE - This July 23, 2008 file photo shows Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivering the keynote address during the annual Facebook f8 developer conference in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address at a conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A businessman displays the Facebook Inc. web page using an Apple iPad, made by Apple Inc. in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Thursday, Aug.19, 2010. Research In Motion Ltd. is turning to technology used in BMW audio systems and the Army�s Crusher tank as it tries to distinguish its new tablet computer from Apple Inc.�s iPad, said three people familiar with the plans. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FILE- This undated product image released by Facebook on Aug. 25, 2010, shows Facebook Places. (AP Photo/Facebook) NO SALES. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.** zu APD9318 **
Mark Zuckerbergs facebook page. (Erkan Mehmet / Alamy)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the redesign during the f/8 conference in San Francisco, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. Facebook is dramatically redesigning its users' profile pages to create what Zuckerberg says is a "new way to express who you are." (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
This June 20, 2012 photo shows a Facebook login page on a computer screen in Oakland, N.J. Facebook is expected to report their quarterly financial results after the market closes on Thursday, July 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Stace Maude)
FILE - In this May 9, 2013 file photo, Joshua Knoller, an account manager with Nicholas & Lence Communications, looks at the Facebook page of his mother, Rochelle Knoller of Fair Lawn, N.J., on his office computer, in New York. Knoller spent years refusing his motherâs âFriend Requestâ on Facebook before eventually âcaving in.â Today they have an agreement: sheâll try not to make embarrassing comments, and he can delete them if she does. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures while delivering the keynote address at the f8 Facebook Developer Conference Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
23 March 2015 - Istanbul, TURKEY: Facebook user login screen. The number of active mobile users Facebook has reached 1 billion people. (Photo via Shutterstock)

But here's where privacy experts start to get uncomfortable: According to MIT Technology Review, even if you don't click the Like button when browsing the hypothetical retailer of choice, Facebook's Like plugin can still capture user data just by existing on the page. And the prevalence of Facebook's plugin means it continually collects data as users move across the web, connecting the dots to create a pretty comprehensive picture of a person's preferences. That kind of data's gold to advertisers.

The tactic is a gnarly one, and one that's been met with a bit of backlash, particularly in the EU, where the practice has been called a violation of European digital privacy laws.

Yet how, if at all, Facebook's Like button revamp will impact the plugin that exists all across the web is anyone's guess. It seems unlikely the tech firm would extend the Reactions drop-down menu to pages outside Facebook, as that could open the door for some degree of abuse. But one thing's certain — the tech giant is poised to collect a barrage of emotional data on users far beyond what a simple thumbs-up might convey.

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