How Twitter Hearts Are Breaking Social Media
by Al Gomez
November 4, 2015
in Social Media
Just recently, Twitter Product Manager Akarshan Kumar, made an announcement that literally shook the social media universe: Twitter just replaced their Fav star icon to a “Heart” – and it’s breaking the Internet.
— Twitter (@twitter) November 3, 2015
The rollout began on November 3 to all users of the platform. The new pinkish-red Heart icon (coined as a “Like” and is to be used as the new Favorite button) is available to iOS and Android devices, as well as on the Vine app and website.
Where Do Missing Stars Go?
To say that the public didn’t go too well with the update is an understatement. Thousands of users flocked to the platform itself to vent their frustration. But why the sudden change? On his blog post, Kumar stated that the move was mainly to attract more subscribers to the service. This explanation is essential because the social media giant – despite its popularity with journalists and celebrities – still fail to deliver to their investors. After announcing their dismal quarterly earnings before 2015 ends, stocks fell by 10 percent after Twitter unsuccessfully tried to attract new users. The Twitter team hopes that the “Heart”, being a universal symbol of everything that is good, would resonate more with potential users. In fact, plenty of online platforms already use this icon. There’s Tumblr and Periscope; and just lately, Facebook also added a Heart to their list of new reactions that were released to Spain and Ireland. Its image-based app Instagram, also uses Hearts to signify a Like. So far, the update is not faring well with active Twitter users. The hashtag #WeWantFavButtonBack says it all. From polls to threats of quitting the app, people all over the world are shaking their heads at the unexpected change. Twitter is not commenting on the public’s outcry though. One thing’s for sure: Hearts could be here for a long time.
Missing Stars? This App Can Help
If you’re serious about getting your stars back, a Brooklyn-based developer may have the solution to your dilemma. Reed Kavner has created a Chrome extension that allows one to change back their Hearts into yellow Fav stars. The app, Fav Forever, can be easily downloaded from the Chrome Web Store and added to your browser. However, there’s still no solution for mobile users.
The Fault with Hearts
Although several folks would agree that the “Favorite” icon can be confusing at first, it’s been a huge part of Twitter’s history. The yellow star has been used as an inside language for years; with Twitter users developing their own meanings to the symbol, as told in a Tweet by user Ian Bogost.
Taxonomy of Twitter faves: Right! Heh Thanks Preach! Aww Fine. I revel in your contempt OMG go away already I am too important to retweet — Ian Bogost (@ibogost) May 26, 2015
Altering this popular mode of communication means forever changing how the system works.
Another thing that loyal subscribers are concerned about is calling the “Heart” a “Like”. Not only is this reminiscent of the iconic Facebook action, it gives off the impression that Twitter wants to be in line with their competition. One of the things people loved about Twitter was its uniqueness compared to other social media platforms. It moves fast, is dynamic, and seems simple enough.
However, with the introduction of the Heart, everything has changed overnight. Apparently, social media managers will have more to worry about other than NOT getting a yellow star. So the questions are: will this modify how social media experts view their metrics? How will this measure up in your monthly report? If a Heart could mean many things, how would we interpret this to clients? If there’s public demand, will they introduce a new set of reactions, too?
It’s clear that the update will take some getting used to. Perhaps it’s only now that we all seem to dislike the idea. Maybe a time will come when we’ll look back and smile at all the fuss we made. Or perhaps not. Whatever happens though, this is one change that will go down in social media history.
Special thanks to Elise Foley for the idea of today’s blog post theme. You’re awesome!
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