Photo: Courtesy of Facebook.
It's happened to you many times: A Facebook friend posts an interesting news story — say, about satanists wanting to build a monument on the steps of the Oklahoma statehouse — and you're tempted to click "Like," but you hesitate. "Like" means a very definitive thing in modern English. It's hard to say — in public, to all of your college acquaintances and professional associates — that you "like" Leigh Ledare's incest-y art, even if you do appreciate it, without looking a little creepy to people who might not know you that well.
Facebook recognizes this, and one of its engineers, Dan Muriello, recently revealed that the company has experimented with a "Sympathize" button for these nebulous circumstances where you want to express interest without suggesting outright approval or enthusiasm. According to the Huffington Post, some Facebook engineers dreamed up a "Sympathize" button at a hackathon held not long ago.
Though "out-of-the-box" ideas often emerge at these types of events, few of them every materialize on the social network. What's important, however, is that the site's engineers are aware of how restricting their current language can be. "Some of our best ideas come from hackathons," a Facebook spokesperson told the Huffington Post, "and the many ideas that don’t get pursued often help us think differently about how we can improve our service." Even the "Like" button itself emerged from one such hackathon. So, news hounds, have hope. (Huffington Post)