Facebook uses angry emoji to provoke users, drive engagement

October 2021

Documents shared with the SEC and the US Congress by whistleblower Frances Haugen reveal that Facebook quietly deployed the reaction emoji associated with its Like feature, notably the anger emoji, to push users into seeing more emotional, provocative and negative content.

Introduced in 2017, the update persisted until 2020 when Facebook finally cut the weighting of its angry emoji to zero, despite documents revealing that Facebook researchers had warned it would likely lead to higher levels of spam, mis and disinformation, and abuse.

The move also effectively undermined the company's content moderators and integrity teams efforts to battle toxic and harmful content.

Speaking in the UK parliament, Frances Haugen argued 'anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook.'

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
USA, global
Push provocative/emotional content
Technology: News Feed algorithm
Hate speech/violence; Mis/disinformation
Opacity: Black box; Access; User communication