Why No Love For Twitter’s Hearts?

· Nov. 3, 2015, 10:43 pm

Today Twitter rolled out a a new icon for showing approval for tweets. Instead of clicking on a star to turn it yellow, Twitter users click on a heart to turn it red.

Twitter product manager Akarshan Kumar explained the change on the company blog:

“We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and 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. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.”

Only in real life, it seems people don’t love it. According to a Twitter poll posted by NPR’s All Tech account, 78 percent of nearly 2,400 respondents said they preferred the star icon. (The poll is still open).

But is it really so bad? Is it the heart we hate, or the change itself?

NPR’s social science correspondent and host of The Hidden Brain podcast Shankar Vedantam says it’s probably the latter.

“I think some of this has to do with the fact that we run on autopilot and so we dislike things that disrupt that autopilot function because it forces us to slow down, think and learn something new,” he said.

So will Twitter come around to the heart?

“Oh I think so,” he said. “All the things we’re so in love with were once new. We’ve come to love them because they’ve become familiar. I’m not even sure love is the right word — we’ve just formed habits.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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