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Facebook Updates Its ‘Friends’ Notification Icon — Puts Women First

“The woman was quite literally in the shadow of the man, she was not in a position to lean in.”


facebook friends

We say “Men and Women, ” “Boys and Girls, ” but “Ladies and Gentlemen.” Only in the last one does the female come first ad now Facebook has decided to do it too. Its new “Friends” icon puts the female image first, to the left and in front of the male one.

Why did the world’s largest social media platform — and by default basically the only one of its kind — make the change?

Caitlin Winner, a design manager at Facebook, explained why in a blog post.

Apparently she took it upon herself to initiate the change because Winner was not happy with the old icon.

“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.”

In the old graphic the woman was also smaller and slightly behind the man.

“My first idea was to draw a double silhouette, two people of equal sizes without a hard line indicating who is in front, ” Winner said. “Dozens of iterations later, I abandoned this approach after failing to make an icon that didn’t look like a two headed mythical beast.”

The new woman image is also very much different from the original one. The old one gave her a head that looks kind of like a salt shaker. The new one gives her an interesting hairdo.

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