Today I'm going to talk about the history of Facebook chat emoticons, and what they represent in the structure of the world's most popular social networking website, Facebook. People who are new to using this site might not be aware that Facebook chat was not always an integral part of their site, indeed it was launched under the veil of quite an amount of secrecy just over a year and a half ago.
Since its launch, Facebook chat has revolutionized the site, who some predicted would have failed by now as a result of the publics general lack of attention span. One of the reasons that Facebook's popularity has been able to grow so quickly and so widely was based on two things - lack of competition (Myspace had destroyed itself by becoming too much of a teen hangout for glitter-obsessed chatters) and LinkedIn was thought by many to be too professional for the 'normal person'. The second big opening for Facebook was that they offered signups to people through accessing their contacts on Hotmail and MSN. This will probably be looked on as a mistake for Microsoft, who should have kept their information locked down - but instead chose to share it through an API.
Facebook chat emoticons
Anyway, so when Facebook launched their chat service, it meant that people who had previously been communicating solely through leaving notes on eachother's walls, could finally speak 'live'. It caused an increase in Facebook's pageviews of more than 300%, as people would stay on their site longer and communicate with their friends, sometimes all day in their office or at home.
Upon launch, one thing was obviously missing - emoticons and smileys. Facebook's design is one that relies on clean, colourful and bright pages - and the general 'snazzy' emoticons which had plagued MSN and Yahoo Chat for so long were nowhere to be seen. However, that didn't mean they weren't included, they just weren't highlighted. Upon inspection of the code of the page, we could see more than twenty Facebook chat emoticons available for users, but they needed to use secret codes in order to put them into their dialogues. It didn't take long before websites sprang up with more information about how to access them, and now they have become a part of the culture of the Facebook user, as well as being a novelty for newcomers.
Facebook releases one or two new emoticons every few months, and recently they introduced the penguin emoticon (in time for Christmas perhaps?). We'll see if there are more new Facebook chat emoticons to come soon!