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The End of Twitter’s ‘Fav Culture’

Replacing favs with likes will change how people Tweet.
Rachel Pick
New York, US

After a test this summer, it's official: Twitter is killing the favorite button, and replacing it with a "like" button.

What what the hell is THIS
— Adrianne Jeffries (@adrjeffries) November 3, 2015

Loyal Twitter users are disgruntled by the change. While it may seem like a minor tweak, people used Twitter favs in ways that were wholly different from how likes are used on Facebook or Instagram. Where likes serve mainly as an "LOL" or some other kind of acknowledgment, favs could also be used as a bookmark for something to come back to later. There's even the "hate fav"—a passive-aggressive, sarcastic gesture.


When I saw the test this summer, I hoped that the switch from favs to likes, from the star symbol to a heart, would be ultimately meaningless, and Tweeters would just go on using the heart the same way they'd used the star. But in a Motherboard group discussion, I realized that was sadly naive. Semantically, "like" and "favorite" are not the same, and a star offers some degree of symbolic ambiguity that a heart does not. A part of me mourns.

Here are some Motherboarders reacting to the change:

Short Circuit Editor Nicholas Deleon: I mean, ultimately I don't really care, but in my mind favoriting something is not the same thing as liking something. I used favorites as a bookmark, not a way to express my feelings about a tweet. I wish I had the option to pay like $5 a month for a version of Twitter that didn't twist itself into knots trying to become Facebook.

Managing Editor Adrianne Jeffries: UI changes the way people act. I'm curious how this will subconsciously affect faving.

Real story: Twitter, the last serious social network, decides we must pretend the world is an Apple ad
— ᴅᴇʀᴇᴋ ᴍᴇᴀᴅ (@derektmead) November 3, 2015

Editorial Fellow Clinton Nguyen: So in one fell swoop, Twitter whittled down what made one of its most interesting and multidimensional features into fodder for a monoculture. The fav was largely what you made of it: sarcastic, genuine, a nod or a kudos—the uses for favs ranged as far as human emotions could stretch. Now the company's dialed back and changed the culture of Twitter completely—a tweet is now as much a garbage lovefest as an Instagram post is. I'd trade in Polls for the old Twitter back any day of the week.

time for the "what did twitter do instead of addressing abuse solutions" checklist
— a literal psyduck (@sarahjeong) November 3, 2015

Social Editor Sarah Emerson: Since the UX change went live about an hour ago, journalists have been flexing their personal brands to complain about Twitter killing the fav culture and ruining Twitter forever. Like, what's the point of even visiting this website if there's no flirty-fav, no read receipt-fav, no hate-fav, no read later-fav, or no favorite-fav, right? How dare you, Twitter. You should have asked journalists if this was okay. But just remember that Twitter actually asked tech writers how they'd feel about hearts replacing stars a few months ago, and decided to make the change anyway. You know who's never been asked for their opinion on a Twitter product change? Normal people. The exact people who Twitter is desperately trying (and failing) to onboard.

Trying not to care about the Twitter fave turning into a like but pink hearts on anything kind of make me want to vom.
— Vicki Turk (@VickiTurk) November 3, 2015

Senior Editor Brian Merchant: Bad.