Twitter Inc. has replaced its star-shaped "favorite" icon with a heart-shaped icon called "like", the latest effort by the company to make its website more engaging.
The company, facing slowing user-growth, joins Facebook and Google's YouTube in featuring "like" buttons, which have been popular with millions of users. Instagram, the photo-sharing app bought by Facebook in 2012, also has a heart-shaped icon for users to "like" pictures.
James Cakmak, an analyst at brokerage Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co, said he thought Twitter was trying to make its site more consistent with experiences on other platforms.
"It's not going to move the needle in any material way," he said, referring to the company's efforts to boost user growth. The modification fits with Chief Executive Jack Dorsey's drive to improve user engagement.
Dorsey, who became Twitter's permanent CEO last month after serving as interim boss since July, has rolled out several innovations including a "buy now" button that allows users to make purchases directly through Twitter.
"You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite," Twitter said in a blog post on Tuesday. "We know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers."
The heart, on the other hand, is a universal symbol and more expressive, the company said.
Many Twitter users scorned the change, and a hashtag called #WeWantFavButtonBack quickly appeared. "Changing @Twitter's star to a heart is the worst product decision in the history of the internet; makes a bookmark into an endorsement," tweeted user Jason.
"You Facebooked my Twitter?" user Scott T. Smith tweeted.
Twitter investor Chris Sacca, of Lowercase Capital LLC, had suggested using hearts in a June blog post titled 'What Twitter Can Be.'
"If Twitter integrated a simple heart gesture into each Tweet, engagement across the entire service would explode," he had said, adding that "favorite" was too strong a word.
Twitter's tweak is the latest by a social media company in the never-ending drive to improve user engagement.
Facebook said last month it was testing "Reactions," a range of seven animated emoticons to help users express emotions including love, sympathy, anger and sadness.
The "like" icon is also available on Twitter's Vine video streaming service.