Why Facebook changed their ‘Friends’ icon to ‘put ladies first’
It’s a small change, but one that Facebook says carries a big message.
Eagle-eyed users of the popular social networking site may have noticed that the tiny icon buttons that denote “groups” and “friend requests” have recently undergone a facelift of sorts.
In an article posted on Medium, Facebook designer Caitlin Winner explained the changes, saying when she first started at the company, she was dismayed to see a man placed in front of a woman in an icon that represented people.
After tinkering with the graphic, Winner kept going, removing the “Darth Vader-like helmet” hairdo on the female icon, and instead going with a “shapely bob.”
Winner then adjusted icons where a single figure was used to represent an action.
“It didn’t seem fair, let alone accurate, that all friend requests should be represented by a man, so I drew a silhouette for cases where a gendered icon was inappropriate,” Winner wrote.
She moved onto the size and order of the female silhouette in the “friends” and “groups” icons, noting the woman was “quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in.”
Now, the woman is the more prominent icon.
In a post, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg welcomed Winner’s redesign.
“Facebook is a global community, and we want to represent the many kinds of people who use our service,” Sandberg said in a post on Facebook. “Symbols matter – and a small image can carry a giant message.”