[Not remotely a John Green fan but will absolutely use his trash novel/movie title ironically to encapsulate the overarching theme of my article choice.]
Every time a social network makes a small change it kicks up dust, sometimes with good reason, often however there isn’t. Before I even knew about Twitter’s minor change I had already run into the repercussions of it. The big change? Twitter changed its “favoriting” icon from a star, to a heart. It’s almost strange Twitter would abandon the star when it’s practically a part of its brand identity. Considering there are websites that are themed around this identity such as favstar.
Immediately the reaction I saw was incredibly homophobic. The results are still pouring in if you search the right keywords. Essentially if you smash that like button, you’re gay. It’s incredibly perplexing considering how common the icon is across most social media platforms. The article quickly points out that higher performing social platform, Instagram, uses hearts. Yet I’ve never heard or seen that kind of negative reaction on that platform.
What interests me about this change is the homogenization of these social platforms. Last time Twitter made a big change [that I recall] it was to the profiles. They became more “Facebook”, profile pic on the bottom left of a profile banner. There was an immediate backlash from people, followed shortly by placation. A lot of platforms get this kind of flak as well when they skew even slightly toward something Facebook has done. But I have a few issues with that, Facebook has a massive amount of users, far more sources for feedback on their design. Even if they’re not learning everything from how their users navigate and engage in their website, they influencing how people interact with social media because their so prevalent. Basically, is this the optimal form of social media or is this just what people are used to? [I forget what article or video talked about this in class, a Microsoft product I believe?]
So is it wrong to trend toward other popular social media sites? What happens in the future though? Change after change, how long is it until everything is so nearly the same except for whatever key feature set it apart in the first place? Facebook for connecting with friends, Twitter for microblogging, Instagram for pictures. [Also I have so much I’d like to say about Instagram and image culture, particularly after having read The Image Culture by Christine Rosen.] Or will they simply become so similar apart from very minor differences in the grand scheme of things. [I’d liken it to “the console wars”, eugh.] So is this homogenization an effect of humans on technology or technology on humans? Is this an example of the technium at work?