“The concept of “liking” things is very old, likely older than the words we use to describe it…”
— Facebook Engineer Andrew Bosworth
We can’t get enough of Quora these days, basically because it connects people who have information to people who need it, and especially to those that didn’t think they needed it. One of the things you thought you didn’t need to know? That the Facebook “Like” button started out its life as the “Awesome” button.
In an epic Quora thread, Facebook Engineer Andrew Bosworth delineates the history of the “Awesome”/”Like” button, what eventually turned out to be a way to connect Facebook users with the entire Internet — with the added bonus of rerouting all activity through the Facebook platform.
Other than the whole “Awesome” thing, which Mark Zuckerberg ended up vetoing in favor of the more bland “Like,” other ideas that got tossed aside in the design process were stars and a plus/minus sign.
Attempting to dispell the commentary that Facebook copied Friendfeed’s “Like” feature, Bosworth’s timeline pinpoints the word “Like” being proposed internally to a less than enthusiastic response on on August 22, 2007, in contrast with the Friendfeed’s official launch of their “Like” button on October 30, 2007.
According to the timeline, Facebook was ready to to launch the button by November 12th but Zuckerberg put a kibosh on the plan:
“Final review with Zuck surprisingly doesn’t go well. Concerns about the whether the interaction is public or private, cannibalizing from the share feature, and potential conflict with Beacon. Feature development as originally envisioned basically stops.“
So Friendfeed gets its out first, and it takes Facebook another two years to push its universal “I enjoy this” button out the door launching it on their own platform in February 2008 and then expanding it to all websites in April 2010. Bosworth adds regarding the Friendfeed button launch, tongue in cheek, “As far as I can tell from my email archives, nobody at FB noticed. =/.”
Going by Bosworth’s retelling, it seems like Facebook came up with the concept first but never actually went through with an “Awesome” button, until after Friendfeed launched theirs as the “Like” button. While Facebook engineer Tom Winah states, “the launch of Like on FriendFeed wasn’t on our radar at all, “ in some sense Friendfeed basically did Facebook’s “Like” button quality assurance for two years.
And despite initial lukewarm “Like” response, Facebook ended up going with the same name; “We were all stubbornly insistent that no word could be more awesome than “Awesome” and Zuck was the main person to recognize it wasn’t a good choice,” confirms Facebook engineer Tom Whitnah.
To everyone involved’s credit, people have been both liking and thinking things were awesome since the origin of the species.