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Will renaming the ‘favorite’ button change the way we use Twitter?

Submitted by on October 23, 2012 – 12:18 pmNo Comment

Facebook’s ‘like’ and Twitter’s ‘favorite’ buttons have become communication stalwarts in the digital age. Through these features, a user can demonstrate that a piece of content holds (at least some level of) meaning for them, through just a simple click.

Facebook has recently announced it’s testing similar new buttons – in particular a ‘want’ button – and now, according to TheNextWeb, Twitter is playing around with it’s ‘favorite’ feature. In place of the ‘favorite’ button, some users are seeing ‘like’ or ‘star’, instead.

At this stage Twitter’s only testing the water, but what are some of the longer term implications of such changes? The term ‘favorite’ suggests an appreciation of a tweet, but many tweeters use it to flag content or links for later – like a bookmark service. Certainly renaming the function ‘star’ might encourage more of this (after all, bookmarking pages in Google Chrome simply involves clicking on a star icon), but would it result in fewer positive affirmations for tweets that users simply find amusing?

Similarly, what are the repercussions of renaming the feature ‘like’ (apart from the inevitable deluge of calls lamenting ‘copy cat!’)? Great for comedy tweeters; their 140 character creations could more easily be given a virtual seal of approval (ditto celebrities making announcements, or breaking news reports), but would the feature impede people’s likelihood to ‘bookmark’ a tweet? If a health organisation, for example, publishes a report identifying a link between car fumes and cancer, and I want to read it later, will I ‘like’ that they’ve made this sobering discovery?

Of course, right now I might ‘favorite’ it – but in the established order of things the Twittersphere recognises that this doesn’t mean I’m a big fan of cancer. However, change the name of the widely-accepted feature and the psychology might also change.

According to All Things D, though, the ‘favorite’ button was originally ear-marked to be called the ‘thanks’ button. How would the ethos of the micro-blogging site panned-out if that one had stuck?

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