Facebook Re-Designed Its Friends Icon After a Female Designer Found It ‘Offensive’

You may not have noticed, but Facebook recently gave their friend icon an update following the discovery of gender inequality in the logo by Caitlin Winner, a design manager at the social network.

facebook logo1“After a little sleuthing I determined that the chip was positioned exactly where the man icon would be placed in front of her, as in the ‘friends’ icon, above,” Winner wrote in a piece titled “How We Changed the Facebook Friends Icon” on Medium. “I assumed no ill intentions, just a lack of consideration but as a lady with two robust shoulders, the chip offended me.”

Once the Facebook designer made this groundbreaking discovery, she decided something had to be done. Winner then took it upon herself to completely redesigned the friend request logo for Facebook.

While working on this project, Winner found that often times, Facebook chose to use male icons for generic representations of actions like adding a friend. To Winner, this just wasn’t right.

“It didn’t seem fair, let alone accurate, that all friend requests should be represented by a man,” she wrote. “So I drew a silhouette for cases where a gendered icon was inappropriate.”

Most Facebook users probably didn’t notice the supposed sexism displayed on the social networking website. However, Winner writes in her piece about the logo change that it caught her eye so she couldn’t just sit back and leave it.

Winner says that when she informed a co-worker of her complaint, the fellow Facebook employee pointed at a poster next to the designer that said, “Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.” The managing designer took the words to heart, and quickly took action.

“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,” Winner explained.

In her journey to re-design the friend request logo, Winner tried and failed to create a logo where the man and woman were standing side-by-side without the pair looking like a “two headed mythical beast.” In the end, Winner completely turned the tables, placing the “slightly smaller” woman in front of the man.

facebook logo
Left, old friends icon; Right, new friends icon.

“As a result of this project, I’m on high alert for symbolism,” Winner said. “I try to question all icons, especially those that feel the most familiar.”

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3 thoughts on “Facebook Re-Designed Its Friends Icon After a Female Designer Found It ‘Offensive’

  1. > “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,”

    When will this equality madness stop?

    The same feminist who demanded this have ALREADY started a new campaign demanding young women be enrolled in front line policing, firefighting, garbage disposal, mining, logging, construction, steel milling, shipyard work, truck driving, plumbing, farming and sewage plant maintenance until a 50% match with men is achieved.

    And as if that wasn’t crazy enough they are demanding all female specific welfare, social programs, medical research etc be stopped and women become financially supportive of men (or the primary breadwinners) in at least 50% of all relationships. They also have demanded “He for She’ be rebranded “Us for Us”

    And here’s me thinking feminists only liked to ‘talk’ about gender equality …. but it seems like after a century of talk, they are finally going to actually do it.

  2. well the first one could be the parents watching over a child and the second one could be seen as 2 guys getting ready to mug a woman, if you wanted equality wouldn’t you put 2 of each? also it could be racists obviously they are all white people in both pics.

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