Attention teens and the adults that act like them: Facebook has added emoticons to Chat on the web. While before you could use text like :) to create a smile or even :putnam: to show a picture of an early Facebook engineer, now there’s a little menu of the most common emoticons in the bottom right of any chat window. Just click one to add it to your current instant message. Facebook even made a “thumbs up” emoticon for its Like Button.
Before you laugh and say this isn’t news, remember that Facebook Chat connects 900 million+ people across the world. Emoticons can help us all overcome language barriers and communicate, even if just basically, with people we couldn’t speak to. And Facebook hopes to allow kids under age 13 onto the service eventually, and having emoticons could make the social network seem like it’s not just for adults.
Right now there’s only 21 emoticons in the menu, including the standard frown and wink, as well as a heart, devil, and the Like icon. Click one, and the text code for it will be added to your chat. You can still use emoticons like :-* to show a kiss even though it’s not in the menu, and yes, you can still use any celebrity or friend’s face by putting their name in double brackets. Try [[Zuck]] to send the face of Facebook’s fearless leader.
There’s currently no emoticon menu in the formal Messages part of the site, even though it’s connected to chat. There’s also no emoticon menus in the mobile apps, and if you send someone on mobile one from the web, it will just appear as a text code instead of a real emoticon. For example the Like-moticon just appears as its code (y) when sent to mobile.
This all might seem childish but some of the smartest people I know including big tech company founders frequently use emoticons when they text message. We need to stop judging, feeling guilty, or fearing they’re the death of literature. We make the rules now. All forms of communication are appropriate in the right time and place. So :-) on!