“We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling 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.”, said Twitter’s product manager, Akarshan Kumar, in a blog post earlier today.

“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.”

It appears, in a bid to garner more users and appeal to a larger demographic, Twitter is taking steps to blend in with the legions of social networks out there (they are contemplating removing the 140-per-tweet character limit). One has to wonder though, whether this will have the opposite effect – cause many Twitter faithfuls to lose interest in the platform.

Not unlike indie musicians, who lose a large portion of their fanbase when they choose to go the mainstream route, making these dilutions will likely do more harm than good to Twitter, as a service, even though they may see marginal improvement in their financial metrics.

I, for one, use Twitter because of the free flow of information, relative anonymity and the fact that it creates a niche, a culture, that non-Tweeters cannot relate to. Taking steps like removing character limits, changing the UI so it’s more Facebook-ey, changing ‘favs’ (a slang that’s become an integral part of Twitter-speak) to a more homogenous ‘hearts’, may not necessarily drive the traffic Twitter expects (because, well, if I wanted to like posts, I’d open a Facebook account).

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Favorites were created not long after Twitter’s inception, pre-dating Facebook likes and Tumblr hearts, and they were designed to bookmark tweets for future reference. Of course, they are used to communicate much more than that today, and it’s yet unclear, what effect the switch to ‘hearts’ will have on the Twitter community. The deed is done, and I guess we’ll have to get used to them. The question remains whether we’ll ever get to love them, like we did the fave. I doubt it.

Sad to say, a star is burned.

Here are some initial reactions to the announcement.

You can say a lot with a heart. Introducing a new way to show how you feel on Twitter: https://t.co/WKBEmORXNW pic.twitter.com/G4ZGe0rDTP

— Twitter (@twitter) November 3, 2015

This is what it says?

I thought it said, “I wanna be Facebook when I grow up.”

This isn’t meaningful improvement. https://t.co/ooGjEoZN71

— Jen Foehner Wells (@Jenthulhu) November 3, 2015

So many new meanings with this like button! Wow! pic.twitter.com/5D6kuNKlGi

— reiss (@Zoumatic) November 3, 2015

@twitter Can we talk about this for a second?

— Nina Mandell (@ninamandell) November 3, 2015

Do you like the @Twitter change from a star to a heart for when you like a post?

— WREG News Channel 3 (@3onyourside) November 3, 2015

@twitter Where’s the spleen icon?

— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) November 3, 2015

.@twitter can journalists get a “save” button then? Looks bad if I’m “hearting” a fatal fire tweet from another reporter.

— Nate Benson (@natebenson) November 3, 2015

@twitter You Facebooked my Twitter?

— Scott T. Smith (@UniPresser_UPI) November 3, 2015

.@twitter really awkward. now it looks like i’m sending love to random strangers or ppl i only know on twitter. pls don’t try to be FB.

— Rowie Azada-Palacios (@rowsterr) November 3, 2015

 

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