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Facebook redesigns its friend request button with feminist twist

Facebook redesigns its friend request button with feminist twist - image
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

TORONTO – Facebook has made a very subtle – but big – change to its friend request button.

The icon, which displays user’s friend requests when clicked on, has been altered so that the female figure now appears in front of the male figure. This is the first time the icon has been changed to show the female shadow more predominantly.

And while it may not be a noticeable change at first, it’s a big statement for the social media giant.

Facebook redesigns its friend request button with feminist twist - image

“As a woman, educated at a women’s college, it was hard not to read into the symbolism of the current icon; the woman was quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in,” said Facebook designer Caitlin Winner, who designed the new icon, in a blog post.

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Winner first started redesigning the female icon after she noticed when the icon was placed on its own, it appeared to have a chip on its shoulder where the male icon would be placed.

“I assumed no ill intentions, just a lack of consideration but as a lady with two robust shoulders, the chip offended me,” Winner wrote.

In addition to filling in the chip on the icon’s shoulder, Winner also gave the icon a more modern bob hair style to get rid of the “Darth Vader-like helmet.”

Facebook redesigns its friend request button with feminist twist - image

Feminist issues have become a hot topic at Facebook ever since COO Sheryl Sandberg published her 2011 book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, encouraging women’s workplace empowerment.

This also isn’t the first time Facebook’s designers have challenged the social network to change its icons to be fair to everyone.

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Last year, designer Julyanne Liang and engineer Brian Jew redesigned the notification icon – which appears as a globe in the top right hand side of the Facebook home page – to give the non-American half of the globe an accurate world view.

The new icon can be seen on both the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook.

However – it appears that the male icon still appears in front when a male user is logged on to Facebook. Around the Global News office, the female icon only appeared in front on women’s profiles.

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