English Research Paper

“Nice Picture Comment!” Graphicons in Facebook Comment Threads

HICSS 2017 |


Facebook has increasingly incorporated graphical means of communication such as emoticons, emoji, stickers, GIFs, images, and videos (‘graphicons’) into comment threads. Adapting methods of computer‐ mediated discourse analysis, we analyze the frequency and pragmatic functions of each graphicon type in threads sampled from public graphicon-focused Facebook groups. Six main functions emerged from the data: mention, reaction, tone modification, riffing, action, and narrative sequence. Reaction was most common, and emoji expressed the widest array of functions. We propose structural, social, and technical explanations for variation in graphicon use, and suggest improvements for the design of conversational graphical elements in social media systems.