Twitter has just made a key change to the icon it uses for “favoriting” tweets. Users of the platform will now see a heart in the place where a star used to be. Twitter said it changed the icon to one it believes is “more expressive.” Interestingly, the new heart icon also comes with a major change in semantics on Twitter.
Twitter trying to be more like Facebook?
Now users will be “liking” tweets rather than “favoriting” them. This move is obviously another attempt to make the platform more accessible to users. It also looks like an attempt to make Twitter look more like Facebook, perhaps to make potential new users feel like they are already comfortable with the platform.
Alt + 3 is the key to ?.
— Sheeraz Raza (@SheerazRaza) November 3, 2015
Interestingly, Facebook “stole” from Twitter a couple of years ago, making use of the hashtags the microblogging platform had been using a long time before. One would think that familiarizing Facebook users with hashtags would help them understand how to use Twitter, but that never happened.
Twitter has been struggling to attract new users since it went public, with each earnings report disappointing investors more than the last. Management probably hopes that such a simple change will make users feel like they already know how to use the platform because they are already familiar with Facebook’s “likes.” Twitter undoubtedly hopes to attract some of Facebook’s more than 1 billion users in order to reaccelerate its user growth. Currently the microblogging platform has only about 320 million users.
What Twitter says about the changes
Of course Twitter management is downplaying the idea that they’re trying to be more like Twitter. Product Manager Akarshan Kumar told CNET that while users of the platform might “like” a lot of things, not everything can be their “favorite.” He also said the heart icon resonates more across cultures than the store icon does, calling it a “universal symbol” that’s “more expressive.”
Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, who just recently was named permanent CEO at the company, is feeling the pressure as he attempts to improve the platform in order to attract more users. One of the big complaints about it was that people just didn’t understand how to use it. Most analysts feel that he’s the right person for the job, as he has a complete understanding of the company’s platform and thus should be able to improve the user experience.
Twitter has already pushed out other updates in an attempt to do this, like the Moments feature, which aims to help users more easily find tweets, images and photos related to events that are trending at a particular moment.