Twitter’s latest feature has angered hundreds of users by making tweets they favourite appear in the timelines of their followers like retweets.
Favourites are displayed in the official Twitter apps for smartphones as well as the desktop site, allowing followers to see what people are favouriting and replying to, favouriting or retweeting those tweets directly from their timelines.
The silent retweet
A favourite is represented by the small star icon next to a tweet and is used by people to show appreciation, to give something a thumbs-up akin to the Facebook “like” or to save a tweet for later.
Conversely a retweet reposts existing tweets from others to the user’s timeline, and is used to rebroadcast something that is notable, although some take it as an endorsement of the point of the retweeted tweet.
Favourites have been described as the “silent retweet”, which up until now has only notified the user who made the original tweet.
‘If I wanted to show people that I would retweet it’
The new feature, which has been rolled out for an unknown number of users, has caused anger among those both favouriting tweets and those who are subjected to unwanted favourites from other users inserted into their timelines.
Hundreds of tweets show user anger, with seemingly no positive support for the new feature.
The favourited tweets appear in the same manner as retweets in user timelines, as noted by Peter Kafka.
Angry tweets immediately poured out, as users who favourite tweets but do not want others to see their picks publicly in their timeline, like retweets, realised what was happening.
They were followed by complaints from users with their timelines spammed with people’s favourites, with some driven to all caps by frustration.
Some also expressed concern over what they perceive as Twitter turning further into Facebook.
While others muse the implications of public favouriting highlighting things some may not want highlighting, despite favourites being publicly accessible from a user’s profile page.
Twitter pointed the Guardian towards a blog post from 2013 discussing the company’s experiments, which are used to test reactions to new features, but declined to comment further.
“We’ve tested various features with small groups of our 200 million users before determining what we’ll release. These tests are essential to delivering the best possible user experience,” said Alex Roetter, vice president of engineering, in the blog post.
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