If you’re anything like me (and you probably are, since I’m not very original), Twitter’s “like” button serves multiple functions: It can be used to bookmark an interesting tweet you want to refer to later (perhaps to use for an article), it’s a way to show someone who replied to you that you saw their tweet, or it can let someone know you liked their tweet — or at least found it interesting — but can’t retweet it.
So, if Twitter removes the “like” button, which the Telegraph says the company is considering, I’ll have to start retweeting everything I find interesting or click on the link in order to save the tweet for later. I prefer the “like” button.
The Telegraph reports that last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told employees that he “was not a fan of the heart-shaped button” and would be eliminating it “soon.” The lack of complete quotes made me initially think that maybe he just doesn’t like the heart. I remember joining the complaints when the star-shaped “like” button was changed to a heart. I don’t typically love the tweets I favorite, and a heart seemed to suggest just that.
But the Telegraph insists Twitter wants to get rid of the whole concept of “likes,” allegedly in an effort to improve the quality of debate on the platform.
Twitter public relations on Monday didn’t confirm one way or the other that it would remove the button.
“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,” the company said in a tweet. “We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now.”
But would removing the “like” button actually improve healthy communication? It’s hard to see how, since the “like” is a non-conversation tool. This, at least, keeps it from being part of an unhealthy conversation.
The Federalist’s* Sean Davis may have hit on a far more plausible reason the “like” button may go away.
“The Twitter execs who came up with that stupid excuse don’t even believe it. ‘Likes’ cannibalize other engagement that increases pageviews and revenue (e.g., retweets and comments). That and that alone is why they’re killing the feature,” Davis said in a tweet.
That very well could be the reason.
Twitter last week reported a net loss of 9 million users in the third quarter of 2018, which the company attributed to removing fake or spam accounts. It could be also that people are fed up with the blatant bias against conservatives on the website.
Further, there’s still no indication that Twitter will add an “edit” button to tweets, something users have been requesting for years. So, we won’t get an “edit” button, but we may lose the “like” button.
*I also write for the Federalist.