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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reacting to Reactions: Facebook's New Reaction Feature


Facebook has just rolled out an update that makes a significant change to how we interact with posts. Besides the “like” button which has existed since 2009, facebook has now added what it calls “reactions”. Reactions add extra choices besides just liking a post; now you can respond with like, love, haha, wow, sad or angry.

Facebook has stated openly that they strive to make their site accessible; therefore, I was somewhat concerned when I could not access reactions at first. So how does one begin “reacting” to posts? Bear in mind that I use an iPhone and cannot comment on the facebook Android app; if you use Android, it is likely that you can make it work by using what gestures you normally use to access content, but you will have to experiment to make sure.

On your iPhone, read through your newsfeed as you normally do. When you want to react to a post, of course, you can simply tap “like” if that is what you want to do. If you wish to use one of the new reaction choices, you can do one of two things. Use a two-finger split tap, the gesture you would use to like, reply or share without double-tapping to open the post. You should see “react” as a new option; (located just beyond like) double-tap it and flick to the right to hear the choices stated above. Double-tap on the one you wish to select, and your reaction is posted. You can change your reaction at any time if you wish.

The other option is to double-tap and hold on the like button and wait a second or so to hear Voiceover say “react”. Then flick to the right, double-tap on your selection, and the reaction is posted. It is important to note that you must be in the newsfeed to use reactions; you cannot access them when viewing notifications. If you receive notifications when a particular friend adds a post, you must double-tap to open the post and use the double-tap and hold method, the second method I outlined, to react to that post.

When using the computer, as of the time of this writing, I have not been able to get the reactions to come up on m.facebook.com. On the regular facebook site, you place the cursor on the “like” button below the post you wish to react to and press the space bar. Instructions for sighted users tell them to hover over the like button; in this case, the space bar, but not the enter key, does the same thing. You then must move down with the arrow keys and locate the list of buttons which correspond to the react options. The unusual thing is that each button is read twice, and you hear, for instance, “like toggle button” and upon hitting down arrow “like toggle button” again. It appears that you can select either button, and it is unclear if this is a bug or if there is a reason for the two buttons.

As I get more information, I will update this post and make sure to inform you of future updates.

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