Facebook has quietly added a new feature to profiles that allow you to say "hello" to your friends with the push of a single button. Wait, is anyone else feeling just a little bit of déjà vu?
The "Hello" is a feature that appeared suddenly on my Facebook today, prompting me to click the happy waving button on one of my friend's profiles. I clicked it. Minutes later I got a notification in return: John Smith said hello to you. You can say hello back. I also got a bunch of messages from people I had hello'd, each with some form of "what the hell is that??"
Clicking the notification takes you to a page listing all the hellos you have received, and an option to "respond". You can keep "hello-ing" back and forth for as long as you want — there's no commenting involved, no actual messaging, no input aside from clicking a button. Does this feel familiar?
Yup, it's pretty much exactly the same as the poke, back from 2004 to haunt us with weirdly forced social media interactions again. The "hello" hub page even counts how many hellos you've exchanged with people, rewarding each new hello received with a burst of animated confetti. It's very much like pokes.
Only thing is, it's not a replacement for the poke. You can still poke people. But now you can also hello them. What purpose does this weird new button serve? Will Zuckerberg come out to explain why saying hello through a completely impersonal interface is key to online socialisation or will this baffling feature go unexplained? For now, I can't imagine a possible purpose for it other than harassing my confused coworkers.
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