Heart it or Hate it: How the Heart Icon Has Got Twitter Chatting


They say imitation is the best form of flattery. And Facebook is blushing with all the flattery, thanks to Twitter which announced it’s going to change its star icon for ‘favorite a tweet’ to an animated heart icon. The heart icon has been introduced even on the Vine and Periscope platforms, the latter which was acquired by Twitter.

Twitter justified its new introduction by saying:

We know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. 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.”

Yes, we agree. The heart is more expressive but it has also left a lot of users utterly baffled. Emotions ran wild on Twitter with some expressing anger over the change, some ridiculing it, a few offering advice, a few mocking it with a whole lot of sarcasm.

@mashable even questioned its followers what they would prefer to use to tell someone their tweet was cool and 84% responded saying they would prefer the star over the heart!

Twitter also said while introducing the heart,

“You can say a lot with a heart. Introducing a new way to show how you feel on Twitter.”

But why then is the heart being looked at as something so loaded? Given that the heart icon is often associated with ‘loving’ something, what if the heart is saying a LOT. A lot more than you actually want to express. What if ‘I love what you are saying with this tweet’ is not something you want to say?

A heart is almost always associated with an emotion as an instant acknowledgement of ‘liking’ or ‘loving’ while the star could morph from something you liked to something you just acknowledge and not necessarily like or love. It was never viewed as an icon to express an emotion.  It was also a great way of ending a conversation that you didn’t want to partake in any further without being rude.

As one twitter user said ‘I don’t love everything I favorite, but now I have to love everything even when I don’t!”

While, Twitter hoped to take the world by storm and to increase its followers base and connect better with its users with this tweak, we sense a different storm brewing. Though the heart with all its cute animated effects definitely makes for a better UX, a big chunk of the Twitterati feel it spreads a little too much love, even when they don’t want to.

But on the other hand, is being nice a bad thing? A large section of social media users feel that when social media has given everyone the liberty to intrude, object, and nullify personal opinions, to freely hand out unsolicited advice and troll; where cyber bullying has had deep psychological effects on many, is showing some love really that bad?

Twitter has been monitoring user behaviour for some time now and discovered that the heart was very well accepted on Periscope . It hopes to bring about a change in how people talk, connect and express. Says Gary Vaynerchuck, Vaynermedia founder and Twitter investor,

“Twitter is moving toward making this product a little more consumable and understandable for the broad market. It might seem like a small step to many, but to me it’s a signal that Twitter is finally acknowledging the market. It speaks to Twitter’s self-awareness, and maybe even to a brighter future for the company.”

Even earlier, Twitter tried to infuse niceness into all the social media cacaphonny by introducing The NiceBot, as a measure to tackle and spread awareness about Cyber Bullying @TheNiceBot is Twitter’s handle that was created with the sole purpose of spreading love and joy amongst us in the hope of making the world a nicer place.

“I am The NiceBot. Something mean is posted on Twitter every 60 seconds, so I have been programmed to deliver random niceness every 30 seconds. Have a nice day!”

Well, we truly believe the world could do with something nice, warm, and loving. Don’t love the heart yet? It’s all right, Twitter hopes you fall in love with it very soon.


Mapplinks is a Bangalore-based integrated creative + digital user-focused agency that helps brands build meaningful connections with what really matters – People.




About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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