Twitter: The Heart Is Smart

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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

Since the announcement yesterday, there’s been a lot of discussion about Twitter’s decision to change its “favorite” icon from a star to a heart. So, I thought I’d join the fray with a brief commentary.

I’ve been on Twitter a long time, but I wasn’t one of those who participated in crafting the way the service was used.

WFH. Enjoying a sunny day at the homestead.

— Pamela Parker (@pamelaparker) March 28, 2007

Early adopters started the now-conventional conventions of the @reply, the @mention, the #hashtag and more, without any particular guidance from Twitter. All of this evolved organically, and, therefore, served the community well. All of these methods and functionality make pretty good sense and their various purposes are self-evident.

The favorite, however, has always been a bit of a mystery. I’ve used it for a whole bunch of different purposes over time: to genuinely mark something as a “favorite” (something that I think should be limited, as you can’t have dozens of favorite tweets in a certain day); to bookmark something I want to read more carefully later (usually, it’s the link or video I want to check out later); and, finally, I’ve begun just using it in the way the heart indicates — to acknowledge someone else’s tweet in a way that’s less of a commitment than a retweet.

And it seems to me that this is how others have used it, too, so it makes perfect sense to me to evolve the symbol and name to reflect the way the user base is actually employing it. It works as an acknowledgment, equivalent to the Facebook Like.

Meanwhile, the company still needs to develop a feature to allow people to easily save those tweets they want to peruse later — something that’s likely to become even more important as the platform incorporates additional content and rich media. “Save” perhaps? I appreciate that Twitter is a timely and fleeting medium, but I don’t always have time to delve as deeply into something as I’d like when I first encounter it. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

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