The Facebook poke was once considered to be a creepy flirting tool, but it seems to have evolved into a simple and polite way to say hello to an old acquaintance.
When I went to test my own Facebook friends’ reactions to the poke over a decade after it was first introduced, it was surprising to learn the poke was viewed exactly how Mark Zuckerberg wanted users to see it 11 years ago.
But let’s back up.
When a little website called TheFacebook.com launched in 2004, there were very few bells and whistles. But there was one very beloved feature — a button to “Poke” other users.
The poke didn’t come with any explanation or rules. Zuckerberg, then 23, said he just wanted to make something with no real purpose. For years, Facebook as a company did not explain what poking implied (see this vague interpretation from its FAQ page in 2007) and so it was up to the first generation of the network’s users to define the poke.
Now thanks to the advent of Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Twitter, there are so many ways to tell someone you approve of their online activity — with “likes” and “faves” and “hearts” — leaving the poke to fade into the background.
But that doesn’t mean people have stopped talking about it.
Searching for combinations of the words “Facebook” and “Poke” on Twitter (the internet’s cafeteria) yields a surprising number of recent results.
The poke wars are making a comeback
— k8med$ (@gr8dak8) July 14, 2015
my dad can’t answer my calls but he can poke me back on facebook in .02 seconds
— jonathan joestar (@slothnick) July 31, 2015
In some pretty serious poke wars on Facebook #isit2012?
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