Spot the Difference: Facebook Changes Its Friends Icon | NECN

Spot the Difference: Facebook Changes Its Friends Icon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Facebook has changed its icons, after one design manager wanted to place the woman in front of the man.

    The latest change to Facebook's look may have gone unnoticed to many, but it's meant to make a major statement. 

    A change to the small "friends" icon on the upper right hand corner of the page is about more than aesthetics — it's about equality, according to one employee. 

    Caitlin Winner, a design manager at Facebook, initially noticed something was off about the icon featuring silhouettes of two users. When she looked at the female icon alone, she noticed a "chip" in the lady's shoulder, "positioned exactly where the man icon would be placed in front of her" on the site's page. 

    “I assumed no ill intentions, just a lack of consideration,” she  wrote in a Medium post. “But as a lady with two robust shoulders, the chip offended me.”

    Winner decided to take action. 

    Facebook put a woman in front of a man for their new icon.

    "The lady icon needed a shoulder, so I drew it in — and so began my many month descent into the rabbit hole of icon design," she wrote. 

    While she originally set out to simply fix the shoulder, Winner soon found herself updating the hairstyles of both sexes, the man icon's shoulder and the positioning of the pair, which she flipped to put the woman in front. 

    "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," she wrote. 

    Facebook changed the hairstyles of the man and woman icons.

    Eventually she took a look at the site's "group" icon, which also had a man featured in front with a man and woman behind him. She switched the icons there, too, placing the woman in front.

    Facebook changed its group icons to feature a woman in front.

    Winner said this small personal project, which was soon incorporated into the site design, has changed her perspective on symbolism with other icons.

    "I try to question all icons, especially those that feel the most familiar," she said. "For example, is the briefcase the best symbol for ‘work’? Which population carried briefcases and in which era? What are other ways that ‘work’ could be symbolized and what would those icons evoke for the majority of people on Earth?"