Stickers, which are essentially a character-driven interpretation on emoticons, made their first appearance in Facebook's iOS application in mid April. The social network has since added its warm-and-fuzzy, and sometimes kooky, digital machinations to the Messenger application for Android. Facebook will eventually bring the characters to its other messaging apps as well.
Though seemingly inane, Facebook's stickers are the product of months of careful research designed to improve messaging and make it more life-like.
"We're looking to figure out how we can create a private-sharing experience to most mimic and capture what's lost in face-to-face connections," Aaron Goldsmid, the product lead behind Facebook's sticker initiative, told CNET.
With that goal in mind, and as part of an ongoing effort in what Facebook calls "compassion research," the company turned to academics like Dacher Kelter, the co-director of the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science program. Kelter teamed with Jones and animator Sam Hood to create a template of universal facial expressions with Charles Darwin's "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" serving as the inspiration, Facebook said.
Facebook isn't the only company embracing stickers. The larger-than-life emoticons are a staple of popular messaging application Line, and have become a new monetization vehicle for private social network Path.