In a time when people just need a hug but are constrained by social distancing, Facebook is adding a hug emoji to its list of "like" reactions.
The new "Care" reaction is an emoji hugging a heart and is being rolled out as people may need some extra compassion during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will join Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.
Fidji Simo, the head of the Facebook app, recently told USA TODAY the new reaction option is meant as a sign of caring and solidarity when commenting on a status, comment, photo or video.
“This idea of a hug reaction came back consistently as one of the emotions and feelings that were missing from reactions. So that’s something that was always on our minds,” Simo told USA TODAY.
Simo said Facebook was considering adding the hug reaction even before the pandemic. The outbreak made it more vital.
On the Messenger app, Simo said users will be able to toggle to a vibrating heart “for when a regular heart does not feel like enough."
The reactions are rolling out on Messenger and on Facebook. Whether it becomes a temporary or permanent feature depends on people's response, Simo reportedly said.
Facebook has started notifying users about the change when they log in.
"We've added a new reaction so you can show extra support while many of us are apart. We hope this helps you, your family and your friends feel a bit more connect," a post from "The Facebook Team" read.