Here's how to beam up Facebook's new Star Trek reaction faces

In honor of the classic show's 50th anniversary, you might be seeing Trek-related icons when you like a Facebook post. Then again, you might not.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
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The new Star Trek-themed icons mark the final frontier of Facebook reactions.


Sick of hitting a simple blue thumbs-up or red heart to approve of a pal's Facebook post? Now you can boldly go where no social network has gone before with the site's new Star Trek-themed reaction icons, meant to mark the classic show's 50th anniversary Thursday.

In a Medium post, Facebook's Lindsey Shepard explains the changes. The "like" button gets some spacey sparkles, the "love" icon switches from a heart to Spock's famed Vulcan salute (though a friend's aunt thought it was a high five). The laughing face is supposed to be Captain Kirk, the "wow" face Spock, the teary sad face Geordi from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." The angry face is, duh, a Klingon.


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There's some space weirdness going on here. There's nothing too Kirk-looking about the laughing face, and really, was Kirk known for knee-slapping guffaws? Spock is possibly the least likely crew member to drop his jaw and look stunned (Bones would've gotten my vote), though I'll let that one pass because of the classic Spock eyebrow-lifting.

And Geordi...love him, but he wasn't even on the original show, the one that's actually turning 50. Facebook's Shepard admits they just wanted a recognizable figure, saying the site "needed visual cues that were easy to identify at a glance, like Geordi's visor." In other words, could've been a Tribble.

Weirder still? There's no obvious way to say, "Yes I want to see these reactions" or, "No I don't get it, leave me with the basics." Thursday morning, a Facebook friend who's not a Trek fan posted, "Why has no one in my feed commented about how weird looking the new 'like' etc emoticons are?" She has liked zero sci-fi shows or movies, yet the Star Trek reactions were showing up for her even though she had no idea who they were supposed to be.

On the other hand, I have Facebooked a whole album of Trek photos from the exhibit at Seattle's Experience Music Project, yet the reactions didn't change for me until I went and liked the official "Star Trek" classic TV show, movie and "Next Generation" pages. (Probably could've stopped at the first one, but just covering all my galactic bases here.)

So if you're not seeing them, try liking the classic show's page and see if the new icons start beaming up for you. You need to be in the US or Canada. And if you're seeing the Trek reaction icons and don't want to, check to see if you mistakenly liked a Trek-related page and if so, unlike it. But you may just have to put up with the spacey silliness of a crying Geordi on your friend's heart-wrenching post about a dying pet.

Facebook says it's "for a limited time," not a five-year mission.

Star Trek exhibit takes fans on a voyage through the iconic sci-fi universe

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