Twitter will soon offer its users a new way to be toxic. Hot on the heels of Facebook, which has long allowed its users to express their feelings about any given post through the use of emojis, Twitter will soon allow its users to react to tweets beyond hitting the “like” button or responding with a mean remark.
The social media company announced today that it is testing emoji reactions for tweets that go beyond simple likes. In the coming days, users in Turkey will be able to respond to tweets with the “face with tears of joy” emoji, the “thinking face” emoji, “clapping hands” emoji, “crying face,” or a simple “heart.” The test, which will run for a limited time, may soon expand to users worldwide. As detailed by Twitter in a mock-up screenshot, the emojis will be visible alongside the likes button.
While emoji reactions have been available on Facebook and other social media platforms for years, as well as Twitter itself in Spaces and in direct messages, this will be the first time that users will be able to express themselves on the timeline directly through emojis. Twitter’s selection of emojis seems to indicate that none of them are especially negative – there is no “angry face” emoji like there is on Facebook or anything to otherwise indicate disagreement with the post. It will be up to users to repurpose one of the existing available emojis, such as the thinking face emoji, to indicate disagreement or mockery.
Twitter narrowed it down to those additional four after conducting surveys and researching what the most common words and emoji are in Tweets. It found that the most popular one is the laughing emoji, and that people want to express reactions centered around "funny," "support/cheer," "agreement" and "awesome." It also identified "entertained" and "curious" as the top emotions people feel when reading tweets.
Its surveys also revealed that "frustration" and "anger" were common emotions experienced by users. While some people wanted to express disagreement with Tweets, the company decided not to incorporate that. Rather, it's trying to see if the new, more positive emoji will drive "healthy public conversations." It's also likely related to the high levels of polarization and toxicity on the site, something that Twitter has been keen to reduce over the past several years.
Twitter announced the limited test of emoji reactions with the launch of Twitter Communities, which allows users to establish specialized spaces where moderators can “pick the focus, create the Community rules, and invite people who will make it a great place for conversation.”
“Think of Communities as places created for conversation where the vibe and tone is set by people who share the same interests and want to have relevant conversations,” the company said.
“Moderators set the Community rules and can also invite others to moderate their space to keep things on track and focused. Right now, Community creation is limited but in the coming months, we’ll allow more people to create Communities so everyone can talk about their thing, whatever it is. Some of the initial Communities we’re testing surround popular conversations on Twitter. Examples include dogs, weather, sneakers, skincare, and astrology, with many more to come, reflecting more of the thriving and niche discussions on Twitter.”