Why We Should Rethink Using The Angry Face Reaction on Facebook

In a recent post, I commented that someone suggested that the angry face reaction to one or more of my Facebook posts may have contributed to some of the problems I have been having with them flagging and suspending my posts for no obvious reason.

It turns out that this theory may well be  correct. 

Having read a number of conversations on forums in the hope of discovering the cause of my problems, I have a strong suspicion that the algorithm may well interpret an angry face reaction as meaning that people don’t like the post, or object to it somehow. Whether or not this causes that post to undergo more scrutiny by the algorithm, and whether or not that might result in the post being deleted by Facebook, and the user having certain types of access or posting permissions suspended for a time, can only be a matter of conjecture, but it would certainly explain my circumstances.

The problem with that is that people might not intend for that to happen at all when they use the angry face reaction. It may be that they are sharing the anger, frustration or dislike expressed by the author of the post about something entirely different. It’s not the post they object to, it’s whatever the writer is angry about that makes them angry, too. 

It would be most unfair if the algorithm were to completely misinterpret that and set in place consequences that are both unintended by the responder while they are trying to be supportive of the author of the post. 

While I cannot prove that this is what has happened to me and to others, it seems to me that it is better to be safe than sorry. 

In short. unless someone posts content that is completely objectionable, I will not use the angry face reaction.

There are, after all, much more helpful alternatives:

  • Use the “wow” or “sad face” reaction
  • Comment with thoughts or reactions
  • Post a gif that expresses thoughts or feelings about the content of the post

That way, your friends and their posts will actually receive support rather than potential suppression. 

Let’s save the angry face for those posts that express hatred, vilification, prejudice, discrimination or violence. They’re the ones that should be suppressed. 

Author’s note: When I first wrote this post, it was based on information I found in forum conversations while looking for the answers to problems I was having with my posts and my ability to post on Facebook being suspended even though I was not active, and had not been for some hours, when those suspensions occurred. The posts in question had received angry responses because people were angry at the problems I was having. 

I should have recorded the urls of those conversations at the time, but failed to do so then, and am unable to find them again now. 

Therefore, I have edited my original post to reflect the fact that what I have written here can now only be considered anecdotal and conjectural in nature. 

My intention was only ever sincere and honest, and my initial statements based on information that did indeed seem to be consistent with my own experience. I apologise that I am unable to direct my readers to that evidence now. 

24 thoughts on “Why We Should Rethink Using The Angry Face Reaction on Facebook

    1. I read meticulously through a bunch of forums and help files. it was painstaking, with a lot of irrelevant material in between, but I wanted to know what was going on with my feed.
      What I could not find was an article from Facebook stating that this was the case – although Mark Zuckerberg’s article from November 2018 hints heavily at this being the case without stating it in so many words.
      A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement by Mark Zuckerberg

  1. I heard that both the sad and angry faces suppress content. (I’ve also heard speculation that the reason is because fb wants only happy customers to which to promote ads that fb sells. Sympathy is not profitable; fb doesn’t want anyone to see posts that will provoke unprofitable emotions.)

  2. I think that if at all possible, prospective research should be done on this, because in my admittedly limited experience, I haven’t seen this happening to posts or comments with a lot of angry or sad reacts. I would be particularly interested in any correlation with post or comment reporting, which is apparently dangerous to FB groups, but is invisible unlike reacts.

  3. Wouldn’t the proper call to action here be “Demand Facebook work harder to understand how their own users actually use their site, and do better.”?

  4. I totally believe this is a thing, and I respect the diligence you seem to have put into looking into it. The anecdotal evidence around me and my friends definitely suggests this is true. The evidence you listed above though is pretty vague. I think it would behoove us all if you are willing to link/share your actual sources for more of us to comb over. Then, we can help support your point. Without that, this unfortunately just becomes more anecdotal hearsay online.

  5. You do not provide any evidence for this assertion. When asked, you linked to an article that does not directly support your assertion. If you are going to make this assertion (and a meme/graphic to go with it), you ought to have more direct evidence. Your take on this is irresponsible.

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s irresponsible, but it does become just more anecdote on the pile.

      In the interest of constructive criticism to the author, I would offer this:
      When a phrase like “It turns out that this theory is correct. ” is put forward, the implication and expectation is that it will be followed by evidence. Failing to do so then makes this an Appeal to Authority, which is a logical fallacy, and it all falls apart. That’s why people are unhappy with the article at it’s roots. A claim was made with no relevant evidence.

      I do not doubt that the author has spent time on the issue reading and researching. I find the theory perfectly plausible. I would like to have access to the information the author has looked at to come to this conclusion. We could all benefit and further the issue, which seems to be where our disappointment lies with this.

      1. Please read the note that I have added to the post which I have edited because, despite my efforts, I have not been able to find the same forum posts which inspired my initial post. The thread may have been deleted, or it may be that I just haven’t been lucky enough to stumble across them again given the other demands on my time this week.

        I fully appreciate the importance of providing evidence, and am quite disappointed that I am unable to do so.

    2. Please read the note that I have added to the post which I have edited because, despite my efforts, I have not been able to find the same forum posts which inspired my initial post. The thread may have been deleted since then.
      Ironically, it was on that forum that I found the meme originally included in, and now removed from, this post.

  6. I also greatly appreciate the update! I too know the struggle of wanting to share what I know and losing track of the resources I used to gain the knowledge. I was constantly berated as a child by my mother for not being able to cite sources on command.

    So, THANK YOU @wordynerdbird! ❤

  7. Thank you for the writing. You know, the responses to the blog remind me of the people on Facebook who read a name of someone they personally dislike, and they immediately go on the attack. I have never had anything removed in my posts before, but then I don’t use Facebook much at all anymore because it seems like everything you might say in the most innocent meaning of your own brings an angry criticism from someone.

    I remember that I had so many people who friended me over the years, and I was going through those to see who to remove as once they friend you, you never hear from them again. Anyway, very sadly for me, I came across in my friends two I new very personally and in person for years, and one of them, an autistic man and his wife, I always called my adopted grandchildren. My other friend was a very wonderful and creative fiber artist (I am a fiber artist among other things myself, so I truly appreciated her). Both of these two people had committed suicide, and it made me so sad, I wanted to delete them, but when I mentioned it online, a number of people attacked me for being so insensitive when it was exactly the opposite reason why I wanted to remove them. It was not as though I could continue to write to either of them and for the wife of my one friend, I feel it would have made her more upset to be reminded of such a sad death. When a person commits suicide, it is so traumatic for the survivors that most of the time, it is better not to keep bringing it up. Often they blame themselves for not recognizing what happened, when in many cases there was no clue from the person who chose to end his or her life.

    We have a lot of suicides where I live, and I remember one little 13-year-old girl who committed suicide because she was bullied at school for having braces. She never said anything to her mother, and her mother had her future in mind when she got her daughter those braces, for it would have made her more attractive physically as she grew older. And we have adults jumping off the bridges over the freeway all the time here. So suicide is a serious issue obviously, and a very sensitive one as well. But at the same time, it is important to remain respectful to others who perhaps were close friends with those people and to not accuse them of horrible things such as being insensitive when you have no clue what they are going through as they see the old photos and posts of those people.

    Similarly, we have the right to express our thoughts always, but we need not throw mud on someone who has expressed his or her opinion, even if they are incorrect. If that person believes in their mind that Facebook removed their comments, it is quite possible that it did happen, and they should not need to show proof. We are not in a court of law here. Thank you, Wordy for expressing your opinion. This is why I blog now and stay for the most part off of Social Media such as Facebook.

  8. Hi, Well, I am a new fan of yours, and I wanted to clarify something about “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda.” I do know the difference for good grammar, and sometimes I choose explicitly to use language that while I know it is not grammatically correct, I want it that way because it suits me as a writer. I have been a teacher, paraeducator, and a tutor of special needs children and adults, ESL students, and illiterate adults. I too am a published writer. So when I make a choice in my writing, there is a reason to it. I was thinking of the story, “The Color Purple,” and how so many people wanted it banned because it was not grammatically a good example of writing. But look what a success the book has been to this day.

    I appreciate your comments, but please don’t assume that just because language that is grammatically incorrect means the author does not know better. It is good to always remain open-minded about the knowledge and motives of a writer unless you have met the writer in person or have known that person over the years. We are not necessarily writing to educate readers, but to convey something via words that we have selected for a reason.

    I am still a fan of yours and I expect to be treated with dignity and respect as you would, I am sure. I have survived a lot of major trauma and dragged myself up to succeed in my long life. I will be 78 this coming November. My mother and father never graduated from high school, so they were unable to help my brother and me with our school work. I struggled through school because I was shy and had other severe issues at home. But I persisted despite many challenges, and I have, as I noted, had a lot of success in my life with everything I have attempted.

    As fellow writers, we all need to support each other’s efforts, and perhaps to ask a person quietly and privately if something about his or her writing bothers us if it was intentional. Thank you kindly. Anne always

    1. My post was not about what authors have their characters or narrators say in books. It was about general usage, and as with all my grammar explanations, only ever designed to help.
      Thank you for your encouragement!

      1. You are always welcome. I always say what I think and think what I say, but this is never in anger. At least nothing that happens on line. I save my anger for people who harrass me and since I suffer from PTSD, I can make them wish they never opened their mouths. We do have a lot of harassment in our senior mobile home park. My husband is partly disabled and I am his caregiver/advocate so it is really stressful, and I worry about him all the time.

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