Facebook is testing a new layer to the status update that allows users to express what they're doing with an emoticon or icon.
The small test (only showing up for a minuscule percentage of users) adds a "What are you doing" box at the bottom of the status box. Upon clicking, users are given a list of "actions" that they might want to share with their friends. These actions include "feeling," "watching," "reading," "listening to," drinking," and "eating." Of course, these actions are fairly representative of the kind of stuff people already share within a status update.
Josh Constine at TechCrunch has some shots of the test. Here's what those actions and their icons will look like:
Cute, right? Little glasses for "watching" - little headphones for "listening to." As you can see, there are already some pre-listed choices to make the status more specific. For instance, the user could select that they are feeling happy, sad, or tired - or that they're watching Barack Obama, Dr. Phil, or Pretty Little Liars.
Users can select one of these options, or create their own. They can also add their own descriptive text into the "action" statuses.
So in the end, you may have a post that reads something like...
My dog just died - 🙁 feeling depressed
You'll also want to note that if you select an item that has its own Facebook page, it could show up in your status. For instance, if I said that I was "watching" There Will Be Blood, that film's page would be attached to my update;
You can probably imagine that this sort of page promotion could be sought out by businesses. If a user says they are "drinking" Starbucks, wouldn't it be nice for Starbucks if their page was linked to within the post - automatically?
Facebook reiterated to TechCrunch that it's a small test:
It’s just a new way for people to visually represent what they’re doing and how they’re feeling through their Facebook posts. It will only be available to small set of people. This isn’t integrated into Graph Search. It’s just a small test to see if people are interested in sharing their actions in a more visual way.
But you have to think about how all of this could be used to Facebook's advantage. It's just another way for the company to collect and organize information on you - and you're doing all the work. These forced action statuses could provide Facebook with info to use in Graph Search, or as guidance in targeting an advertisement.
Tests are tests, however. And there's a chance this never reaches a large audience. If people inside the test respond well to it, you'll probably see it popping up in more and more users' status boxes.