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. 


20 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! ❤

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