Twitter has a lot of issues. If you dare dive into its darker corners, it can be a festering cesspool and echo chamber for conspiracy theories, racism, and violence. Its CEO, Jack Dorsey, has been under fire for failing to address these elements that have virulently spread on his platform, so now it appears that he has a potential solution.
What, you incredulously ask? Yep. The “like” button is the apparent culprit, and Dorsey is publicly flirting with the idea of dumping that little heart-shaped button that accompanies your tweets.
Dorsey seemed to be thinking aloud at last month’s Wired25 summit about the efficacy of Twitter’s “like” feature and whether it promotes healthy conversation or denigrates communication into a superficial war for popularity:
“Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want [the number of likes] to go up,” Dorsey reportedly said. “Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we [incentivize] healthy conversation?”
It’s not an incorrect point to ponder, but it pales when juxtaposed to the litany of Twitter’s other problems. In a week after an individual sent pipe bombs in the mail to prominent Democrats, news outlets, and private citizens—an individual whose Twitter feed was full of hateful, conspiratorial content—focusing on the retirement of the “like” button seems misplaced at best. Social media has allowed us to connect, but it’s also tearing us apart at the seams.
Maybe start with those who spew hateful rhetoric that devolves the entire global conversation, and then move on to the “like” button which can turn debates into popularity contests. Just an idea.
And while we’re making adjustments to Twitter’s interface, can we just get an “edit” button while we’re at it?