On Monday, Twitter was briefly ablaze after CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly suggested to The Telegraph that the company might eliminate its heart-shaped “Like” button. The company quickly clarified, tweeting that as part of a “commitment to healthy conversation,” it was “rethinking everything about the service,” including the “Like” button.
But this wasn’t the first time Dorsey has signaled his frustration with the “Like” button. “We have a big ‘Like’ button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up,” he said just weeks ago at the Wired25 summit. “Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentivize healthy conversation?”
Twitter has, for years now, grappled with how to tame abuse and build a more positive experience for users. In a July blog post, the company vowed to work “to increase the collective health, openness, and civility of the dialogue on our service.” Earlier this year, Twitter also introduced a bookmarking tool to allow users to save tweets without having to “like” them.
But if Twitter really wants to foster more healthy conversation, the “Like” button is a puzzling target. “Given so much hate and bile and disinformation and harassment on this website it’s not an immediately obvious move to eliminate the heart shaped button people use to show each other support and appreciation,” my colleague James Hamblin tweeted.