Twitter users may be about to find out what Twitter is like when virtually everything people use it for has been demolished.
Then again, we could also be overreacting to a bit of social media-fueled hysteria.
On Wednesday, unconfirmed reports that Twitter was planning to essentially kill the like and retweet buttons by making them invisible spread throughout the platform, accompanied by a flurry of panic from Twitter users who recognized exactly how detrimental such a move would be to the site’s health, well-being, and community engagement.
But the reports may have been premature, and slightly inaccurate. And while Twitter later issued a clarification, it didn’t entirely settle the matter. Let’s break down what’s really going on.
Twitter is working on an app designed to improve conversation overall
Twitter has long been working on the release of a new mobile app, “twttr.” The app has a few specific aims, one of which is to make long, threaded conversations on Twitter easier to read. As you can see in the below screenshot — taken from a beta version of twttr by Vox’s sister site The Verge — a thread in the app will look similar to a typical threaded discussion on LiveJournal or Reddit, with successive reply strands being indented accordingly.
And if you look closely, you’ll notice that this change to the interface doesn’t leave any room, once you scroll past a parent tweet, for Twitter’s familiar like, reply, and retweet counters.
On Tuesday, Twitter released a prototype version of the app to a limited group of testers. Multiple tech sites reviewed it, but few if any seemed to consider the buried implications of the streamlined threads: no visible likes and RTs.
That changed on Wednesday, when miscommunicated news about the app began to cause alarm.
Misinformation about what’s happening to likes and RTs quickly went viral
On Wednesday, NBC News reported on some of the changes the new “twttr” app heralded. Although NBC did note that likes and retweets would be hidden “behind a tap,” it didn’t register the potential significance of such a change from users’ perspective, instead focusing more on changes to Twitter’s camera features. NBC also originally misstated that the app was removing the likes and retweets entirely, which added to the confusion and sent Twitter running to clarify its plans.
Yesterday, we started giving people access to our prototype app twttr which we’re using to test new ideas and get feedback. Putting likes and retweets behind a tap is just an idea to help make conversations easier to read. https://t.co/HTI3ImTYe6
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) March 13, 2019
But many Twitter users immediately panicked over the idea that likes and retweets were potentially being removed altogether. One tweet that spread rapidly before its owner later deleted it suggested incorrectly that Twitter was removing these engagement stats rather than hiding them, and that the change was being rolled out across Twitter instead of “just” being tested in a prototype app currently only seen by a few people, with no guarantee of ever becoming part of Twitter’s core experience.
“Removing Retweet and Like numbers is HUGE and is sure to upset virtually everybody,” the user posted before realizing their mistake. But by that time, panic had already begun to set in:
hello, twitter hiding engagement counts (likes and retweets) will be absolutely destructive to community-finding and community-making here. social activity doesn’t come just from tweeting and replying, but from liking and retweeting too. those numbers show what people care about.
— jonny sun (@jonnysun) March 13, 2019
Twitter is proposing to hide engagement metrics (likes/retweets) to make the site “friendlier” by removing the appearance of ranking.
Here is the truth: they find the concept of “the ratio” embarrassing to powerful people and embarrassing to be associated with.
— Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) March 13, 2019
excited for Jack to destroy my livelihood
— Gretchen Felker-Martin (@scumbelievable) March 13, 2019
And now, before we go any further, we need to take a step back — and a few deep breaths. Currently, Twitter’s plans to implement these changes as part of the new twttr app are unknown. And there is no indication that they will ever affect the larger site as a whole.
But there is still a reason to be concerned for Twitter’s like-based ecosystem. And given that concern, all the fears being expressed over potentially hidden likes and retweets have merit. Because hiding likes and RTs would, in essence, be the end of Twitter as we know it.
It’s madness to consider hiding or removing likes and RTs, but Jack Dorsey keeps talking about doing it anyway.
It’s highly understandable that many people read about Twitter “removing” likes and RTs and assumed the changes were about to take effect across the platform. That’s because Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been talking about his desire to get rid of the like button since last fall, supposedly in the name of “incentivizing healthy conversation.”
He first floated the idea at the Wired25 conference in October 2018, and then raised it again less than two weeks later at a private Twitter event, where he reportedly promised to delete the like button “soon.” This apparent promise, originally reported by the Telegraph, drew scrutiny from the media and plenty of backlash from Twitter users. It also prompted a swift demurral from Twitter itself, which issued an official statement noting that the platform had “no specific timeline for changes or particular planned changes to discuss.”
One Twitter communications staffer even walked back Dorsey’s “soon” timeline with an explicit negation:
Short story on “like.” We’ve been open that we’re considering it. Jack even mentioned it in front of the US Congress. There’s no timeline. It’s not happening “soon.” https://t.co/jXBmkudWYv
— Brandon Borrman (@bborrman) October 29, 2018
But Twitter notably didn’t say that removing the like button was off the table completely. As a result, users’ concerns haven’t gone away.
And many of those concerns are valid, because some of the rumored changes, if they do come to pass, would fundamentally alter Twitter’s purpose.
Simply removing likes would be bad. But even just hiding both likes and RTs could be apocalyptic.
The ongoing conversation about creating healthier discourse on Twitter hasn’t exactly been served by the confusion surrounding the fate of likes and retweets. In particular, there are several slight differences between what Twitter has actually proposed in the past, what it’s currently doing, what it could feasibly do in the future, and what Twitter users think it’s going to do.
The idea of removing likes altogether — the idea that Dorsey first floated in October — was about completely removing the ability to like a tweet. It’s a fraught idea; among many other reasons I’ll get to in a moment, the Twitter like is multifunctional, serving as a way to passively response and interact as well as a bookmarking, scheduling, and notation tool.
However, just ditching the like button would still allow users to retweet and signal-boost important conversations — meaning the basic ecosystem of the site could theoretically continue to live on without too much infrastructure collapse.
The envisioned change that Twitter users foresaw in the prototype twttr app, however, was one in which both likes and retweets would continue to exist but would be hidden from public view by default. While the app allows users to view these stats by tapping to reveal them, remember that most people didn’t realize this at first — and panicked because they thought these features had vanished.
Hiding likes and retweets is arguably a much more destructive change, because it diminishes Twitter users’ ability to elevate some voices and opinions over others. Retweets and likes have always been crucial tools that allow the greater Twitter community to drown out trolls and other detritus, while simultaneously helping good conversations, viral moments, and underprivileged and marginalized voices gain attention.
If those tools are hidden by default, it stands to reason that virality on Twitter would cease to exist.
If Twitter gets rid of likes, that is fine. If you enjoy one of my tweets, simply bring a lasagna to my place of residence. Then I will know from how many lasagnas I have in the lasagna shed whether people like or dislike a tweet. This plan is foolproof.
— Roxi Horror (@roxiqt) March 13, 2019
The same is true for the fabled “ratio” — the relatively young but widely beloved Twitter meme that involves shading the hell out of tweets that get far more comments than likes and retweets — essentially a snarkier version of a community’s collective downvote. Without easily visible tallies of likes, comments, and retweets, users wouldn’t have a clear indication of when a tweet or a conversation was causing controversy or becoming extremely unpopular. There would be no simple way to tell, for example, exactly how much people on Twitter dislike Paul Ryan, or when a tweet you posted is bad, actually.
Without a demonstrable feed hierarchy, every tweet, every opinion, and every response to that opinion would be rendered equal. And egalitarianism is exactly what Twitter users don’t want.
As anyone who’s spent more than five seconds on the internet understands, all opinions are not created equal. Twitter already has a very well-documented problem with harassment. And while Dorsey seems to think that removing the like button would offer a better, healthier way for people to interact across polarized ideological divides, to many users, the idea of putting trolls and bad-faith debaters on a more equal footing with their targets sounds more like a nightmare.
This is not a fucking debate site and the people who harasss you and then attack you for not “debating” them are the ones that need to be removed, @jack @twitter, not the “like” button. Either remove the fucking racists or just admit that you’re on their fucking side. https://t.co/xIaGBJxXI3
— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) October 29, 2018
Plus, hiding likes and RTs would potentially alter so many tiny things about how Twitter functions that it’s difficult to even comprehend them all. For instance, if you’re friended by someone with 10,000 followers, a good way to tell if those followers are mainly bots is to survey the user’s engagement stats; if none of those 10,000 followers are liking their tweets, those users are probably bots, and the follower may also be a bot. Without the ability to quickly gauge how many likes and retweets someone is getting, it becomes more difficult to identify fake Twitter profiles.
Or consider the split-second decision process you go through when deciding whether to amplify someone else’s tweet by retweeting it. If you’re like me, you tend to shy away from retweeting something that’s already gotten thousands of retweets, for fear of being repetitive or boring and clogging up the Twitter feeds of your followers with a tweet they’ve already seen multiple times that day. Without the RT count being visible, that entire decision process goes away, for better or worse.
These small but meaningful ripple effects could fundamentally alter Twitter as we know it.
It bears repeating again that all these changes are rumored and speculative, and there’s no solid evidence that a major diminishment of Twitter’s engagement features is on the way.
But if Twitter users’ worst fears are eventually realized, it wouldn’t be the first time that a social media company either misunderstood or ignored what its users loved about the site and made changes that drastically altered those users’ experience. The current Twitter hysteria may be a false alarm, but it’s rooted in very real and very valid concerns.
16 Striking Photos That Can Touch Your Heart
Photos keep our memories safe and every time we look at them we can immerse ourselves in the moments that have been captured in them. They can also help us to understand what’s really important in this world. And it doesn’t matter whether these photos are from your personal album or belong to somebody else. Their messages, feelings, and emotions can be perceived in one glance.
Here at Bright Side, we believe that the following photos will really touch your heart.
This couple has battled leukemia for 15 years since they were children. Now they’re husband and wife.
This fireman gave a cat that got hurt in a fire mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and saved it.
“My dad, who has dementia, trying to remember my name”
His owner passed away but the dog continues to sit near his bed and wait.
This is what depression looks like over 24 hours.
Have you ever seen a blind dog enjoying the sounds of a lake?
An Iranian girl cheers for her favorite football team from behind the fence since Iranian women aren’t allowed into stadiums.
“My mom painted dementia.”
When all you have is memories:
The 3 social classes in The Philippines in one photo
“My buddy, a glass blowing artist, used my dad’s ashes to make a keepsake marble I can take with me anywhere.”
“She gave me the best 11 years of her life and I can only hope that I was able to do the same thing for her.”
“A year ago, my little sister left this world. This weekend her heart recipient met my mom and shared her heart beat.”
“The moment your dog comes out of the fire you thought he died in”
“3 months ago we were told our newborn was blind. 2 weeks ago we found out the doctors were wrong. Today, she got her glasses.”
“I’m just so proud of you!”
Today my daughter graduated from pre-K. After the ceremony, my son walked up to her and gave her a hug. “I’m just so proud of you,” he said. Then, of course, my daughter started crying. As we wiped away our tears, my husband asked her, “Pumpkin, why are you crying?” She responded, “I’m just so happy.”
Each photo has its own story. Which of them touched you the most?
Komünist Başkan, Aldığı Kararla Sosyal Medyada Trend Topic Oldu
Mehmet Fatih Maçoğlu’nun belediye başkanı olduğu Tunceli Belediyesi Meclisi, ‘Tunceli’ yazan belediye tabelasının ‘Dersim’ olarak değiştirilmesine karar verdi. Bu karar sonrası Maçoğlu, sosyal medyada Trend Topic oldu.
Tunceli Belediye Başkanı TKP’li Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu başkanlığında belediye meclis üyeleri toplantısında alınan kararla Tunceli Belediyesi tabelasının ‘Dersim Belediyesi’ olarak değiştirilmesi kararı alındı. Karar tartışma yaratırken ‘DersimdeğilTunceli’ etiketi sosyal medyada Trend Topic oldu.
BELEDİYEDEN AÇIKLAMA YAPILDI
Belediyeden yapılan açıklamada Dersim ibaresiyle birlikte Zazaca ve Türkçe beleriye hizmetleri verileceği duyuruldu. Açıklamada şöyle denildi: “Kentimizin kültürü, tarihi ve inanç biçimini yaşatmak adına belediyemiz hizmet binasında bulunan tabelada yazılı ‘Tunceli’ ibaresinin değiştirilerek yerine ‘Dersim’ ibaresinin yazılması oy çokluğuyla kabul edildi. Haber
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15 Random People Who Look So Much Like Celebrities, You May Want to Take a Photo With Them
It’s not an easy goal to meet a real celebrity in our everyday life. Sometimes they are too busy with their activities or simply prefer to avoid public places. But when you see one right in front of you, don’t be too quick to jump over the moon and ask for a photo. Try to check their IDs first, because we are ready to show you that there are too many ordinary people who look just like stars and who probably wouldn’t miss a chance to pose and giggle afterward.
We at Bright Side compared photos of celebrities to their clones to demonstrate that this isn’t a joke. IDs first, photos after.
15. Kylie Jenner and Kristen Hancher, but which is which?
14. “My dad actually does Jack Nicholson lookalike work in Hollywood as a hobby.”
13. Breaking news! It seems Kim Kardashian has cloned herself.
12. “This fella lives in my house. I think James Franco and he follow each other on Instagram.”
11. “My sister always gets asked if she’s Julia Stiles.”
10. Nope, those aren’t just 2 pictures of Steve Buscemi!
9. Here’s chance for those who are upset that Michael Fassbender is married.
8. We’re just interested to see if Meghan Trainor’s double has the same talents.
7. We know this is pretty unexpected for Taylor Lautner, but we can’t unsee it.
6. This girl claims that she gets compared to Katy Perry daily.
5. When Chuck Norris is on vacation.
4. “Never mind, I’ll find someone like Adele.”
3. If Cobie Smulders doesn’t want to shoot How I Met Your Mother 10, there’s a perfect replacement out there.
2. Wait, so you’re saying that isn’t Zooey Deschanel on the right?
1. Even Zach Galifianakis and Jonah Hill can see this resemblance.
Do you have any friends who look exactly like movie stars? Show us their photos!
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