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Coming Soon: Facebook-style Twitter Reactions

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Facebook and Twitter often get directly compared to each other without good reason. Perhaps it’s because they’re both social media websites. Maybe it’s because they both became globally popular at around the same time. There’s a connection between Facebook and Twitter in people’s minds to such an extent that if you didn’t have an account with either platform, you could be forgiven for presuming that they do the same thing. Of course, that isn’t true.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Both Facebook and Twitter became available to the world in 2006. Back then, both of them were social media websites. Twitter still is. Facebook isn’t. Facebook bought WhatsApp and Instagram and started making physical products. Facebook even tried to find a foothold in the incredibly lucrative online slots marketplace by launching the Facebook High 5 Casino. The idea was to take all the things that make online slots websites like Rose Slots CA so popular and present them in an in-house format, so people didn’t have to leave the Facebook website to play them. It didn’t really work. The Facebook casino is still up, but its share of the billions of dollars that online slots sites make each year is minimal. Not everything Facebook tries turns out to be a success, but it does at least try. Throughout all this, Twitter has remained firmly committed to being a social media platform.

There is no Twitter-owned alternative to WhatsApp. There isn’t a Twitter-made product you can set up in your home, like Facebook Portal. While Facebook constantly finds itself accused of taking ideas from other places and attempting to clone them, Twitter sticks to what it’s good at. When Facebook added ‘likes’ to posts many years ago, the company was accused of copying the very feature that made Twitter so popular. It seems that now, all these years later, Twitter is finally going to take a page out of Facebook’s book and make a major change to interactivity and the user experience. If you’ve always wanted to (virtually) laugh, applaud, show sadness at, or perhaps display bemusement with the things that other people post on Twitter, you’ll soon have the option. According to a trustworthy source, Twitter will introduce emoji reactions in the near future.

The initial reporting on this story was done by Jane Manchun Wong, a respected app researcher who’s been right about similar stories in the past. On her own Twitter account, she’s even provided visual proof that the concept is being worked on. Presuming she’s right about all she’s said so far, the full range of emotions Twitter will allow us to convey in emoji form are “like,” “cheer,” “hmm,” “haha,” and “sad.” You’ll note that the key difference between these emotions and the ones Facebook introduced in 2016 is that there isn’t an “angry” reaction. Presumably, Twitter thinks there’s quite enough anger on its platform already.

This isn’t the only significant change that Twitter is working toward at the moment. The past twelve months have seen several innovations made either behind the scenes or in front of them at Twitter, with the company seemingly looking to modernise itself after several years of stagnation. “Spaces,” an audio chatroom service, has proved to be surprisingly popular and is set to be expanded. Users in some territories can now “tip” their favourite Tweeters, giving popular posters a way of monetising their accounts. The maximum permitted size of image files has been increased. According to leaked screenshots and a mistaken App Store listing (which was quickly removed), we also know that the company is working on a subscription service called “Twitter Blue.” It’s thought that the subscription service will be an “upgrade” on the existing free Twitter platform, although quite what subscribers will receive in return for the reported price of $2.99 per month is unclear.

Reaction to the news that Facebook-style reactions might soon be coming to Twitter has been mixed. While some users commented that they’ve been wanting something like this for a while, others feel that it’s a feature best left on Facebook. They also point out that the “haha” or laughing-react emoji is often used on Facebook to mock people through sarcasm, which they don’t feel Twitter needs right now. Even more people have pointed out that this is yet another case of Twitter giving its users new features that they’ve never asked for rather than giving them what they’ve wanted for at least the past ten years – an “edit Tweet” button. Jack Dorsey, the company’s owner and CEO, has repeatedly stated his opposition to such a feature. He feels that Twitter is still a “text messaging service” and that once you’ve sent a text, you can’t take it back. The overwhelming majority of his customers appears to disagree with him, but that’s his call to make.

As of the time of writing, we don’t know when – or even if – these new features will be added to Twitter. It’s clear from the images that Jane Manchun Wong has obtained that they’re at the testing phase, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to roll it out. Twitter’s programmers might decide that changes need to be made after the testing phase. They might even decide that it’s a non-starter and scrap the idea altogether. One thing that Twitter doesn’t struggle with is interactivity. So long as you have a reasonable following and you comment on a trending topic, you can generally expect to see at least some engagement on your Tweets. Giving people other ways to engage doesn’t sound like the kind of idea that’s going to make a big difference to the Twitter experience. If anything, it’s four or five years too late in terms of the popularity of emojis. We should applaud Twitter for at least trying something new, though. Standing still and doing nothing is the exact reason that Twitter has lost ground in recent years. Trying something is almost always better than doing nothing, and the chances are that at least one of these new Twitter ideas will stick to the wall.