What Does the Twitter Heart Mean?

What does the Twitter heart mean? In an effort to be more immediately relatable, Twitter is trading the star icon on their platform for a heart. Previously the star icon was associated with "favoriting" a tweet. Now Twitter users will be clicking a heart instead of a star. By clicking the heart a user will now "like" a tweet. This update took place on November 3rd, 2015. 

Twitter's product manager Akarshan Kumar is quoted as saying: "You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite. The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones....in our tests, we found that people loved it."

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For most people there is a difference between liking something, and something being their "favorite." For instance, a person might like ice cream but their favorite flavor is mint chocolate. Thus Twitter, by changing the image from a star to a heart, and the term associated with it from "favorite" to "like", could lead to people being more generous in liking other peoples' tweets. Interaction would then increase because there are many things people can like but less things that people would associate as their favorite. This might then lead to a more robust Twitter newsfeed.

Additionally, in changing the icon Twitter has done two things. First, according to their research they have chosen a more universal icon. Second, they have aligned themselves with social conventions being used on other social platforms such as Instagram and how people convey their "like" of a post. Changing the icon then will hopefully increase understanding of how to use Twitter as well as increase interaction. 

In order for social platforms to maintain their relevancy they must continue to update how they operate. For Twitter, this change will hopefully allow them to grow beyond their enthusiast user base into a more mainstream crowd.


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