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Since it was introduced by facebook I guess it will probably become mainstream and be accepted before long, but I am wondering if there was a term previously used for these types of elements on social media websites that indicate a user's emotional reaction or response to posts.

Also, is the term possibly ambiguous or confusing in other UX context?

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Yes, Buzzfeed have been calling them reactions for ages. I hope Facebook's version ends up looking more like Buzzfeed's version. enter image description here

You can see them in use on this article. 24 Medieval Reactions That Are Literally Your Life

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