In the Twitterverse, until today at least, a tap of the star icon nominally indicated that something was a user's "favorite." But "faving," as the gesture was abbreviated, came to express much more than that superlative. A fav meant you'd seen something. A fav helped bookmark a tweet, usually with a link or image, for later perusal. A personal, er, favorite, was the hate-fav, a sarcastic gesture that in context might indicate something was in fact despised, or one's least favorite.
Now, I guess, it's time to get ready for the hate-like. That's because today, as you may have heard through the Twitter grapevine, the company announced in a blog post (and via animated tweet) that it will replace the beloved favorite with a heart button.
The same change will be seen today on Vine, and on Twitter for iOS and Android as well as twitter.com, TweetDeck, and elsewhere. Twitter expects users to employ the button in order to express a "range of emotions," although in much the same style as Facebook, the symbol will be known as a "Like."
Some might see this as posturing — a move to imitate Facebook. If so, it would much belated and somewhat ill-advised, as that company prepares to introduces a whole palette of new buttons. To extrapolate, Twitter doesn't see that as a good move — at least for them, yet might still like to capitalize on a more universal gesture acknowledged across many platforms.
Indeed, "We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use," the company explained in its brief announcement, "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."
In semiotic terms, it might be wiser to signify like-ness with a heart shape rather than a "thumbs up" graphic. For example, imagine someone conveying the message that they've been laid off. Giving them a thumbs up isn't awfully encouraging, while showing them a little heart might be more readily acceptable as a symbol of support.
"The heart... is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones," the announcement reads. "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 Verge explains that testing occurred over the summer, and though today the Twitterati are taking to their platform of choice to, as they so frequently do, bitch about it, this move isn't being made for them. With Twitter's stock struggling on news that it isn't quickly enough acquiring new, perhaps more casual users, in an earnings call last week CEO Jack Dorsey hinted that change was afoot. "We can’t give away all the secrets, but we want to make Twitter easier... And give more power to people using Twitter." At the end of the call, he joked — rather earnestly — "Did I mention we need to make Twitter easier?... We want to do that, too. Oh and also make Twitter easier to use."
Re: ❤ vs. 🌟: Twitter decides once again to disregard its loyal users in its never-ending and futile quest to emulate Facebook. cc: @jack— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) November 3, 2015
.@twitter I suspect, like network TV, you have too many employees who feel like they have to fuck w the product or risk getting fired...— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) November 3, 2015
So, fav-faithful, there you have it. Twitter wants to be "liked" by more people, even if the platform isn't going to be everyone's favorite. Eat your heart out, haters.