Twitter’s Transition from Favorites to Likes

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Written by Megan Moore

Megan Moore
BU News Service 

Earlier this month, Twitter made a small change on their site. It changed the star icons used for favorites to heart icons, and has the audacity to call them “likes.”

“We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite,” Twitter said on their blog.

Though Twitter makes a valid point, this change takes the professionalism away from the site. What used to be a great tool for marking articles or posts for later reading, can now be seen as an endorsement of said article. Instead of marking tweets for professional reasons, the “like” icon elicits an emotional connection with a posting. I don’t necessarily like every article or tweet when I hit that heart icon, especially when it comes to news stories.

Twitter is my main source of news. And while I’m breezing through Twitter, I like to mark news articles to read for later, or stamp tweets that I want to share with friends but not necessarily my whole Twitter feed. Now, I have to mark them with a like and this gives an entirely different connotation. For instance, I don’t want to like a case of bad reporting, but I may want to bookmark it for an example later on. I do the same for well-written articles.

Twitter said the heart “is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people.”

Essentially, Twitter is now in line with Facebook and Instagram. But I’m not sure this is a good thing. The like button works for Instagram — I either like a picture or I don’t. However, similar to many Facebook users, I’m often put off by the like button. I don’t want to like the bad news my friend is sharing. I don’t want to like the fact that a world tragedy is happening. I don’t want to like posts that don’t warrant liking, but need to be acknowledged regardless.

On the other hand, many users are loving this new button. The term “favorite,” after all, is a noun and not a verb, so the misunderstanding is valid. And when Twitter tested the icon out on Periscope, users loved it there too.

“You’ve embraced hearts in a big way on Periscope, and we’re delighted to bring them to Twitter and Vine, making them the common language for our global community,” Twitter said about the change.

It’s possible that Twitter made this change to attract new users. Word on the street is Twitter is a dying social media platform. Though I appreciate their efforts to keep up with trends, I don’t appreciate them taking away one aspect of their site that helped set them apart from others. I’m sure to adapt, but hate the fact I have to change the way I engage with content on the site.

Adweek sums it up perfectly by saying, “Going forward, Liking something on Twitter will have emotional implications. There will probably be fewer people using Likes as bookmarks, and more people using them to express positivity towards the content of the tweet they are Liking.”

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