USA Today just made a horribly tone-deaf use of Facebook's new 'emoji reactions'

Earlier this week, Facebook began testing out ’emoji reactions’ in Ireland and Spain, but it looks like one of the largest US newspapers has already figured out how to misuse them.

On Friday, USA Today ran its front-page articles with cartoon Facebook emojis sitting next to each article, presumably to indicate how the editorial staff felt about each story. Or maybe how they thought their readers would feel. It’s honestly hard to tell.

USA Today no doubt hoped to score points as a digitally-hip and forward-thinking newspaper by incorporating the Facebook emoji into its print newspaper. But the experiment appears to have quickly backfired.

The contrast of a sad-faced crying emoji, usually associated with frivolous teenager text message conversations, appearing next to an article titled, “U.S. hero of French train attack stabbed,” rubbed many people the wrong way. 


David Callaway, the editor-in-chief of USA Today, provided this comment to AdWeek about the paper: “Social media and its icons are becoming a dominant form of communication in our world. We wanted to show what they would be like if transferred to print.”

This statement is cryptic at best.

If this was some sort of meta-commentary about how online communication is cheapening the sanctity of print journalism, then perhaps it succeeds. But it’s hard to imagine Callaway would risk offending a potentially large swath of the population to make some obscure point about #journalism.

Business Insider has reached out to USA Today for comment.

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