You may have noticed something different about Twitter. The once shining star, used to favourite tweets, has been replaced with a red heart. It is no secret Twitter has struggled to gain new users over the past couple of months, and, as other social networks continue to see growth, things needed to change. The recent hiring of Jack Dorsey as CEO signaled that change was coming. First, he introduced ‘moments’, Twitter’s attempt to amplify their role as a location for breaking news. This recent shift from ‘favourites’ to ‘likes’ is less dramatic and aims at changing the user experience in subtle ways. The Internet’s reaction to the change was, well, what you would expect from the Internet. There was outrage, many angry tweets proclaiming the death of Twitter, and the occasional piece of quiet support. So let’s take a minute to examine what exactly the heart represents:
First off, the change to the heart unifies many of Twitter’s platforms (think Periscope which uses hearts to display engagement), creating a single way for any user in their ecosystem to express their interest. The hope is that it will also spur greater engagement. The favourite was a relic of the early Internet, a way to bookmark pages for later viewing. It could easily be misunderstood, and often was left unused, not everything can be your ‘favourite’ after all. The heart is a universally recognized symbol, and the meaning is easy to comprehend whether you speak English, Spanish, French, or Japanese. Twitter hopes that this simple change will convince more people to click on the heart and share the love. So put away the pitchforks, they haven’t given up on the 140 character limit…yet.