Today the world woke up to a big change on Twitter: to “favorite” a tweet, there was a heart where a star used to be.
The change comes shortly after Facebook announced the addition of alternate reactions to the normalized “Like” (incidentally what the new Twitter heart signifies, leaving “favorite” in our Internet past).
What does it all mean?
Probably nothing. Maybe. Here are a couple of theories to take or leave:
The Internet is full of meanies.
If you spend any time online, you see how bold or brazen fellow human beings can be while securely seated behind a keyboard. Spewing hate or words of derision is far easier when the face-to-face is out of the equation.
In many ways, the rise of live video streaming feels like an answer to this lack of humanity. When we can see a face to put with the handle, we make a better connection and hopefully better efforts to treat each other like humans. Perhaps this move by Twitter lines up with trends to see a softer side of social media.
Twitter sees you, Instagram.
Social media’s leading minds realize that Instagram has taken off as a preferred platform among millennials and other influential demographics. Go ahead and open your Instagram app now (or just work from short-term memory), and you’ll see the clear heart icon as the way to acknowledge a user’s post.
Instead of giving a gold star, why not a familiar heart? Since you can dual-post your latest Instagram to Twitter, might as well line up the lingo.
Adding a <3 to a tweet/post/story might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Where is the option to simply offer a non-committal acknowledgement of a shared snippet?
Perhaps Twitter just took another step to allowing even more emotion to be expressed beyond the frantically-typed-or-tapped word. After all, now we can post animated GIFs in our favorite platforms. Perhaps offering a hair-pat type of interaction through a bursting, sparkly heart is just the ticket. (You caught that it actually bursts, right?)