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Twitter’s ongoing experiments with favorites not a favorite of many frequent users

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Twitter is turning favorites into retweets. If you feel like you saw grumblings about that weeks ago, that’s because you probably did. Like most of Twitter’s product experiments, it’s been a slow rollout over the past month.

But recently it has reached a much wider swath of users, many of whom are not too pleased about the changes. Twitter has not officially “launched” this product tweak, which means it’s still in its testing phase, albeit with a much bigger size of guinea pig recipients then before.

And as noted, those guinea pigs are not particularly excited about the change. From tech reporters to founders to anonymous accounts, a chunk of users had no problem venting about the new function:

“Favoriting” on Twitter is a bit like a Facebook “like.” It’s a way to acknowledge and bookmark something – a funny joke, a thoughtful line, an article that might have intrigued you but you don’t have time to read.

Retweeting on the other hand is frequently seen as an endorsement of a fellow tweeter’s point of view. That’s not always the case – some use retweeting to confuse or piss off a troll – but for the most part retweeting something has a favorable connotation. You found it interesting enough to share it to your followers.

Although some blame the current favoriting experiment on Twitter not understanding its own product and how people use it, I disagree. Whenever a company introduces new features, there’s always a huge backlash by users. That doesn’t mean the feature won’t later on come to feel natural and even core to the experience. See: Facebook Timeline.

In this case, Twitter might be risking the temporary anger of its users for a more important long-term goal: Growing the content that appears on the site. By turning “passive” favoriting activity into tweets for everyone else, Twitter makes even its less engaged users into content creators.

Of course, such a shift could fundamentally change the way people use the favoriting button – i.e. by not using it at all. At this point, it looks like Twitter is testing to see if that’s the case.

3 Responses to “Twitter’s ongoing experiments with favorites not a favorite of many frequent users”

  1. Annie Pettit

    Wow. There is so much that I favourite that I KNOW my followers would have no interest in. It is a bookmark for stupid things, interesting things, and personal things. I really don’t want to fill everyone’s feed with stupid but now I’ll have no way to keep track of things for myself.

  2. Such a strange move for Twitter to make, surely the retweet button will soon become completely redundant? I appreciate that the favourite button has a specialised use, and that use is still probably not entirely taken advantage of by most, but I don’t see the advantage of combining the two functions.

    Hopefully it is only a testing phase – an unsuccessful one by the looks of the feedback!

  3. Daniel O'Brien

    I’m probably just gonna use the favorite button then if all it does is retweet. To be honest, it seems like a waste of time, resources and energy in something that doesn’t make any sense in doing. I you ask me there should be a 4th button where it retweets and favorites, instead of just retweeting your favorites. But what I’m most concerned about is… what happens to things that I’ve already favorited? Because I favorite more than I retweet, so will my past favorites show up as new retweets? Or will they alter my timeline and insert themselves into the time section of when they were favorited? Lets say I have a Retweet at 5:00 pm, and a Favorite at 7:30 pm and then another Retweet at 8:00 pm. Will the order become Retweet at 5, Retweet at 7:30 and then Retweet at 8? Or will it be Retweet at 5, Retweet at 8 and then Retweet at 7:30?