Today, Twitter announced that it is rethinking everything, including the future of the "like" button, in an effort to incentivize "healthy conversation" on the social media platform.
At a company event last week, founder Jack Dorsey said that he planned to get rid of the identifying feature "soon," reports the Telegraph. Dorsey went one step further to say that he "was not a fan of the heart-shaped button."
The future of the button was also addressed by the Twitter communications team in a tweet which read:
"As we've been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation, that includes the like button. We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now."
As we've been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation, that includes the like button. We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now. https://t.co/k5uPe5j4CW— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) October 29, 2018
We first got a glimpse of Dorsey's opinions on his own and other similar platforms in a recent text conversation with Kanye West. In a now deleted Instagram post, Dorsey agreed with West about some of the toxic aspects of vanity metrics and follower culture saying, “We want to incentivize contribution to the global conversation and consciousness.”
Twitter has been in the news repeatedly as its users question why the platform continues to verify accounts of known white supremacists while failing to consistently address accounts espousing hate-filled ideologies that are racist, antisemitic, and homophobic. Rather than removing reportable rhetoric, this design shift to promote healthy debate would make it less publicly known who supports questionable tweets which have been a proven precursor to dangerous behavior, as was the case with the mail bomb suspect, Cesar Altieri Sayoc. On one hand, it would give less of a publicized platform to hateful tweets. Currently, likes are public. The move would also raise questions about how Twitter prioritizes and promotes tweets.
The like button has taken on various forms over the years. Originally in the shape of a star to favorite tweets, the heart-shaped like button was added as a replacement in 2015. “Us making that number bold and big incentivizes people to want to increase it, and feel bad if they couldn’t. That’s not right," Dorsey continued. But the toxicity has gone beyond comparison and social pressure as people take their opinions offline and into the real world.
Twitter users aren't excited about the news. Many see it as attempting to fix a non-issue while ignoring bigger, more glaring problems.
Finally. Twitter is getting rid of the biggest problem on their platform - the LIKE button!!! We’ve all had enough verbal harassment, death or rape threats from that LIKE button. It’s time the LIKE button went. Cuz that sure is Twitter’s biggest problem, the LIKE button. @jack— JEN KIRKMAN (@JenKirkman) October 29, 2018
Users: hey can you get rid of the Nazis please— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) October 29, 2018
Twitter: ok sure, we've changed the stars to hearts for likes
Users: no no, zero Nazis please
Twitter: yep we're getting rid of Vine
Users: nah hey, what about the Nazis
Twitter: ok ok fine, no more likes https://t.co/HKE0BrCiVU