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Maryland GovPics/Flickr (CC-BY)
In a bid that surely won’t backfire, Twitter is about to change its social media platform by removing “likes,” the Telegraph reports. The reason? Apparently, Twitter thinks removing likes will make discussions much better on the service.
The news reportedly comes straight from an event with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who claims that he never particularly enjoyed the system and that the site would “soon” do away with it altogether. Additional changes include letting users edit tweaks and a new verification system “so that a blue tick is no longer a preserve of celebrities and ‘influencers,'” the Telegraph states. All three are part of a list of changes behind the scenes to cut down on the site’s “echo chambers” and create a “healthier place” online.
As for when Twitter users can expect likes to go away, one Twitter spokesman stressed that the company isn’t ready to open up on the details quite yet.
“At this point, there is no specific timeline for changes or particular planned changes to discuss,” a spokesman told the Telegraph. “We’re experimenting and considering numerous possible changes, all with an eye toward ensuring we’re incentivizing the right behaviors to drive healthy conversation.”
While Twitter has received an enormous wave of criticism over the platform’s ongoing problems with online harassment, bigotry, and abuse toward women, removing likes is the last thing most Twitter users wanted. In fact, the system was praised as a discreet way to express love and support toward other Twitter users. For particularly personal tweets, like posting selfies or announcing a breakup, a “like” hits the perfect balance between sending too much care and not enough at all.
Suffice to say, Twitter isn’t happy with the supposedly upcoming change.
Dear @Jack, @Twitter, @TwitterSupport: we are not here for “debate.” We are here to talk to people. One of the ways we interact with each other is by clicking that little heart to say “I see this, even if I don’t respond, you are noted.” It’s a little kindness here.
— Louisa 🌈👭 (@LouisatheLast) October 29, 2018
what i've always thought would bring more positivity on here, is removing the simple heart-shaped button that i can use to show support to my friends https://t.co/kU4eqqy7bJ
— Xythar (@Xythar) October 29, 2018
twitter: you can fave tweets!
us: cool that's helpful
twitter: faves are likes now!
us: sounds weird but ok
twitter: some likes show up on everyone's timeline!
us: wait no that's bad
twitter: understood! likes are gone!
twitter: we love quality debate!
— moth dad (@innesmck) October 29, 2018
me: twitter is literally the worst platform for discussion or "debate"
twitter: we're removing *throws dart into spinning wheel* uuuhhhhh likes because it will make the debate better
— durry muncher (@haraiva) October 29, 2018
people: aaaa, twitter stop showing my horny likes
twitter: ok i guess we’ll just remove liking https://t.co/GyC0mQ0YAy
— sachiko (@woke_teen) October 29, 2018
Twitter users: "public likes on the timeline are stupid, can you guys do something about it?"
— Triple-Q (@TripleKyun) October 29, 2018
what if, instead of likes, twitter dispensed small quantities of cheese
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 29, 2018
This presumes people use Twitter just for debates. What about memes and art? Promotion for a passion project? That ain't posted for high quality debates.
That and… people are still gonna tweet the same in debates, likes won't change anything. Clearly another motive behind this https://t.co/6NFpQBmU0N
— Lonely Goomba (@LonelyGoomba) October 29, 2018
Others point out that removing likes won’t necessarily fix the real problem: getting rid of abusive Twitter users, like the site’s white nationalist mobs.
Or they could ban the Nazis.
— VƎX Luthor Posted Forty Takes (@vexwerewolf) October 29, 2018
Users: hey can you get rid of the Nazis please
Twitter: ok sure, we've changed the stars to hearts for likes
Users: no no, zero Nazis please
Twitter: yep we're getting rid of Vine
Users: nah hey, what about the Nazis
Twitter: ok ok fine, no more likes https://t.co/HKE0BrCiVU
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) October 29, 2018
Yeah @jack, because the like/favourite button is obviously what’s wrong with “the quality of debate” on @twitter, not the bots, or the Nazis, or the death threats, or hate speech, or false information. Of course, it’s the likes. Duh. You fucking goose. https://t.co/O9GU7TA77g
— Dean Robinson (@deanjrobinson) October 29, 2018
Why not just remove the Nazis and hostile intel agency bots & trolls instead?
It's well within reach of AI/NLU technology.
— David Bowman (@MichellesDude) October 29, 2018
Not to mention, likes represent users’ most secret parts of themselves. It’s not uncommon to find prominent politicians randomly liking porn tweets or conspiracy theories, causing some interesting discussions online.
i don't think the telegraph story about twitter likes is likely to be true but just in case i would urge twitter to consider that without twitter likes we would never have had this story https://t.co/j5Zl23QR6f
— libby watson (@libbycwatson) October 29, 2018
The worst thing about Twitter getting rid of likes is that we won't be able to see gross old male politicians faving porn bots 'by accident'.
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) October 29, 2018
I wonder if they are making this change because various celebrity users have been embarrassed by their “likes” (e.g. Ted Cruz and the porn tweet). Because they are So Much More Important than the typical @Twitter user. :/
— Larissa Hufflepuff (@purlgurly) October 29, 2018
if they take away the like button on twitter, i’ll begin shouting things outside 7/11 and see who gathers to listen. your cheers will be my “likes”
— ryan (@ryanyeetz) October 29, 2018
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Meanwhile, billionaire and shitposter extraordinaire Elon Musk was temporarily locked out of his Twitter account after he tweeted about his love for catgirls and anime. It remains unclear if the site is expanding account security and protection to differentiate between false positives and real security incidents.
H/T the Telegraph
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Waypoint, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.