Facebook, which has launched a variety of gender options and removed the ability for one to feel "fat" in a status update, has now updated a small, barely-noticeable graphic and made a female silhouette have a slightly more stylish hairdo. She's also now positioned in front of the male silhouette. This is A Thing that is Very Important.
But in terms of gender equality, Facebook's new look is making a big statement.
The "Friends" icon, in the upper right corner of the page, has long featured a male silhouette in front of a smaller female one. The new icon now shows the woman in front of the man, and the two silhouettes are the same size. Similarly, the new "Groups" icon now depicts a woman between two men. Before, a man was in the center, between another man and a woman.
Facebook design manager Caitlin Winner revealed the changes in a Medium post. She wrote that she noticed gender discrepancies in the "glyph kit" when saw that the male icon was symmetrical but the woman had a chip in her shoulder. The chip was the spot where the man was placed in front of the woman in the "Friends" 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," Winner wrote in the post.
She updated the woman's and man's hair, as well. The biggest change, though, is the more prominent placement of women in the "Friends" and "Groups" icons. It was a design choice because placing the icons next to each other was confusing, Winner said.
Personally, I think the new hairstyle more strongly resembles hockey hair than a bob, but whatever. This is a Big Statement.
This isn't a "big statement" for "equality." It's an icon change that's barely noticeable. When I first saw the CNN tweet about this *groundbreaking* effort by Facebook, I had to scour my own Facebook page to even find the icon referenced--and I've been a Facebook addict since 2006. It's also not "equal" to shift a silhouette of a woman/T.J. Oshie in front of a silhouette of a man/Sinead O'Connor.
This feels like a sad attempt to prove that Facebook is a progressive, hip company.The site is hemorrhaging younger users who think the site is untrustworthy. Nobody cares about where the woman is located in the groups icon--they care if their privacy is being violated.
While I guess these changes are sort-of admirable, it's a bit absurd to call this "equality."