Today The Telegraph reported that Twitter was thinking about killing the Like button — and the news spread fast. The source was a Twitter event last week, where CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly said he “wasn’t a fan of the heart-shaped button” and “would be getting rid of it soon.” As the Telegraph piece traveled, that quote was taken as an immediate threat that the Like button’s days could be numbered.
Users responded to the report angrily, noting that the Like button allowed them to support others and offer solidarity. Some expressed fears that without the button, retweets and argument would be the only means of communication.
But the threat may not be quite as imminent as it seemed. This morning, Twitter pushed back against the report, denying any immediate plans to change how Likes work on the network. “There’s no timeline,” Twitter communications VP Brandon Borrman wrote. “It’s not happening ‘soon.’”
This isn’t the first time Dorsey has mused about the Like button. Back in August, Dorsey said he was experimenting with new features on Twitter and redesigning features, including the “like” button. At the time, he said, “The most important thing that we can do is we look at the incentives that we’re building into our product... I don’t think they are correct anymore.” Months later, the project doesn’t seem to be any further along.
As the Telegraph piece referenced, Like buttons can encourage addiction to the platforms as people seek external validation, according to many psychology studies. The incentives encouraged by a like button are certainly being questioned by Twitter, but as the company stated today, the button will still stick around for now.