Last month, when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey moved into his new office and set about broadening the platform’s appeal, little can he have anticipated the twitterstorm he would unleash with one tiny tweak.
In updates that are rolling out across the company’s apps, Twitter has replaced its ‘star’ icon with a ‘heart’; additionally the feature will now be known as ‘likes’ instead of ‘favourites’.
— Twitter (@twitter) November 3, 2015
The change appeared to make perfect sense: a ‘star’ indicates a value judgement; a ‘heart’ indicates liking, or loving.
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. 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. — Akarshan Kumar, Twitter
The problem for Twitter is that that’s not how Twitter users have been using the feature. The ‘star’ may indicate a like, but more often it’s used to bookmark a tweet — if you like it, you retweet it.
Twitter has always developed based on usage — the hashtag was a user invention that the social network adopted. But now it appears that declining growth has persuaded the platform to actually think strategically, and they prefer to court new users than appease existing ones.
Whilst some power users were unfazed:
Twitter replaced the star with a heart? I’m fine with that, who cares anyway? It could be the poop icon as well. https://t.co/NjZcKNj5uB
— Tobias van Schneider (@schneidertobias) November 3, 2015
Many more were predictably melodramatic:
1/changing @Twitter‘s star to a heart is the worst product decision in the history of the internet; makes a bookmark into an endorsement.
— jason (@Jason) November 3, 2015
ODE TO TWITTER 🎶Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder where you are, Twitter changed you to a heart, I don’t think they’re very smart🎶
— Nathan (@stockejock) November 3, 2015
I used to hit “Star” on @twitter for stuff I disagreed w but acknowledged. Now I should “heart” those tweets? Another nuance dies.
— Steven Levy (@StevenLevy) November 3, 2015
Replacing the Star with a Heart retroactively changes the meaning of 8 years of Twitter Favs. What was the idea? To make Twitter… warmer?
— iA Inc. (@iA) November 3, 2015
I work at @twitter but even I can’t believe how we replaced a completely value-neutral term like “favorite” with something so loaded.
— Peter Seibel (@peterseibel) November 3, 2015
The ❤️ as ⭐️ is a complete misunderstanding by @Twitter of how its super user group of sceptical journalists think of ‘favourites’
— emily bell (@emilybell) November 3, 2015
Fortunately, for those who simply can’t live with the change, Wired have provided a helpful guide on reverting to the star icon.