Twitter is planning to remove the ability to "like" tweets in a radical move that aims to improve the quality of debate on the social network.
Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it “soon”.
The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace “favourites”, a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.
Similar buttons to “like” or show appreciation of people’s status updates, pictures and videos have become a central function of every popular social media service since Facebook introduced them.
But psychologists have suggested that they may be causing social media addiction among users who crave endorsement from their peers. It has led to a trend where young people will tweet or share something on Instagram and Facebook but will delete it if they have not received enough “likes” shortly after.
In March 2018 Twitter introduced “bookmarks” for saving tweets, signalling a pivot to a new system. A Twitter spokesman said: “At this point, there is no specific timeline for changes or particular planned changes to discuss.
“We're experimenting and considering numerous possible changes, all with an eye toward ensuring we're incentivising the right behaviors to drive healthy conversation.”
Jack Dorsey, a billionaire who also runs payment company Square, is under pressure to clean up his platform, which came under attack by Russian trolls who used it to spread fake news ahead of the US election and the European referendum in 2016.
It has become an easy hiding place for cyberbullies, with some celebrities deleting their accounts after incessant harassment from Twitter “trolls”.
In recent weeks, Mr Dorsey has been vocal about ongoing experiments behind the scenes at Twitter to help make it what he describes as a “healthier place” by reducing “echo chambers” and cracking down on misinformation.
He has hinted that he will be bringing in an option to edit tweets, change the verification process so that a blue tick is no longer a preserve of celebrities and “influencers” and that it could change how users’ follower counts are displayed.