As the nation continues to practice social distancing and schools remain closed, Facebook is adding a hug reaction so users can send their friends and families a little extra comfort right now. Starting next week, you'll be able to share something a little more than a "like" with your Facebook community.
In addition to the "Like," "Love," "Haha," "Wow," "Sad," and "Angry" reactions you can use on Facebook, you will soon be able to show your friends you "Care" with a hug on their posts, too. Fidji Simo, the head of the Facebook app told USA Today that this reaction was something Facebook always considered, but the current pandemic accelerated the need to add it.
"The current crisis really shows a range of people struggling with very different kinds of things," Simo told the news outlet. "People who are sick or taking care of sick ones. People who are losing their jobs. People who are stuck at home homeschooling their kids. Everyone right now has something in their lives that requires support."
And with the brand new vibrating heart reaction on Facebook Messenger available to today and a smiley face hugging a heart coming to the app soon, Facebook users can send their friends a hug or a little extra love during these difficult times.
Due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19, Facebook said in a blog post in March that usage has spiked all over the world and hug reaction on Facebook seems fitting for a time like this. It may not stay forever though as Simo told USA Today that the feature could be removed at the "end of the crisis" if people are only using it towards pandemic-related posts. For now, though, send out as many virtual hugs as you please to connect with your loved ones.
"There is a lot of research that does show when you see people's struggles as well as their highlights, it helps normalize things and it helps you feel like you can relate," she told USA Today. "It's very important to make it safe to do that, and this reaction is part of that."
Expect to see the vibrating heart emoji in Messenger on Friday and the "Care" reaction on your Facebook feeds sometime next week. Keep an eye out for both.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.