It’s been nice to know you Twitter favorites, you’ve been a good friend. Today, Twitter announced that they are replacing favorites with likes. They are changing the icon from the star we know and love to a heart.
So, why is Twitter doing this? Ultimately, it’s all for the new users. With hearts, it’ll make it easier to understand for those who are unfamiliar with the Twitter platform. Struggling to entice more people to make regular use of their service, they are doing what they can to make Twitter appear more new user friendly. Favorites have been used in the past as both bookmarks to come back to later, or even to send various subtle signals to authors of tweets, such as the LOL fave, the-too-hot-to-retweet fave, and so on. It’s these signals that many users don’t get into Twitter, and why the company is making the change.
Akarshan Kumar, Product manager, explained Twitter’s thinking in a blog post:
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.
The heart, in contrast, 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. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.
The move from the star to the heart was a long time coming for the company, as they were testing ways to replace favorites with likes as far back as 2012. Twitter recently began experimenting with hearts this summer on the Twitter mobile app. Chris Sacca, who has been a big supporter of the change, devoted a section of his 8,500-word essay on fixing Twitter back in June, which argues the reason why the company is moving from favorites to hearts:
“A very high bar is set by using the word ‘Favorite’ on Twitter. Favorite is a superlative. It implies a ranking. In the early days of Twitter many of us interpreted the word literally and only keep a few Tweets in our favorites that were truly, well, our favorites. Today, many of my friends and I use the star as a ‘Like’ button equivalent or even a simple acknowledgement that we saw a Tweet. Whereas other people use favorites as bookmarks. However, the majority of users are baffled by favorites and they don’t end up using the star much, if at all.”
“It is high time to introduce “Hearts” to Twitter. For years, folks at Twitter struggled with whether to use a more casual gesture. Suggestions even included buttons that said “Good” or “Thanks.” It is now clear from across the Internet and throughout the world of apps that the heart is universally understood and embraced. (In fact, Periscope’s unlimited heart repetition has elevated the social feedback loop to a mind-blowing new level.) If Twitter integrated a simple heart gesture into each Tweet, engagement across the entire service would explode. More of us would be getting loving feedback on our posts and that would directly encourage more posting and more frequent visits to Twitter.”
It’s funny as it is coincidental that Twitter is doing this switch from favorites to hearts around the same time that Facebook is looking beyond their own Like sentiment. There is a test being run by Facebook that is giving users the ability to react with a series of emoji, such as Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad and Angry, in addition to the already existing Like button.
According to Twitter, hearts will appear today on iOS and Android devices, as well as twitter.com, TweetDeck, Twitter for Windows 10 as well as on embedded tweets on third-party sites. Mac users will see them “soon.”