I’ve written about this back when Instapaper changed the star icon to a heart.
It’s human nature to put things aside. In a drawer. For later. It could be collection or deferment. Contemporary interaction design utilizes a bunch of very similar but different concepts - archive, bookmark, highlight, save, flag, mark, star, favorite… like - depending on context these could be private or public actions. And in the case of Facebook likes are the core idea around which the whole platform is build. And likes in particular are the odd one out. Likes are very singular. And a lot more proactive. As Twitter implodes in a stars vs. hears battle it’s hard not to think of the actual battles happening in the Middle East - no one likes tweets about death and carnage.
When Digg recreated Google Reader they copied everything. But renamed starred items to saved. And changed the star icon to a bookmark icon. The star was already a pretty good fit for the task. But the term save has deep roots in software applications. Betaworks had a chance to improve on something and they took it. It’s pitty they didn’t do the same with Instapaper.
And now Twitter has red hearts. Even worse they're renaming favorites to likes, which means every tweet you’ve favorited/starred in the past is now liked instead.
"You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite" says Twitter's product manager. And goes on about the "heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones" - Such bullshit.
Nobody likes a refugee crisis or a plane crash! Facebook are adding reactions because the thumbs up icon is so singular. And not everything can be liked.
Hearts are not all bad though. Tumblr uses hearts. It works like a charm for them. Because Tumblr is a very passionate platform. A red heart icon feels at home there. When you unlike something there’s an animation of a heart broking in two. It’s not cheesy because Tumblr works that way. What's not to like there 😆