Bryce Parr – 

In a bid to improve the health of the platform, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he wants to remove the “like” button from Twitter. The “like” button was introduced in 2015 to replace the “favorite” option. Members of the University of Wisconsin-Stout community showed concern toward the decision.

University of Wisconsin-Stout student and Twitter user Macy Helgeson said she may not use the platform if the “like” button is removed. “There’s a reason every social media platform includes some form of “like” button. We want to react to the things we see and support our friends, and in turn we want to receive validation,” Helgeson said.

Twitter’s public relations issued a tweet response to the news on Tuesday. “As we’ve been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivizing healthy conversation, that includes the “like” button,” the tweet said. Twitter has shared no plans on how  it will promote healthy conversation, but many users are concerned that it will come at a cost.

Twitter is also cracking down on site content. Over the summer, the company banned over 70,000 accounts identified as bots and just recently banned another 10,000 accounts that were discouraging users from voting.  

UW-Stout professor Cody Reimer expressed his disagreement with the possible plan. “Getting rid of [likes] will have dramatic repercussions” Reimer said. “The reason people use twitter is varied and complex but one of the reasons is it is stripped down. Without the ‘like’ button, it takes more time to compose a response. The floor for engagement is suddenly raised. [Users] will just leave the platform.”

Some users also express discontent with the way Twitter approaches its own guidelines. Despite having rules against hate speech, harassment and threats of violence, some users claim the rules are not upheld.

“There are times when a person will post flat out hate speech and Twitter won’t do anything. Then another person will reply to the tweet and challenge the original poster, and Twitter will suspend the [replier] instead.” Helgeson said.

Instead of modifying the platform to handle healthy communication autonomously, Reimer believes a more hands-on approach is necessary. “I think they could apply their own rules better. They need to take a hard look at the amount of claims that are submitted against accounts and how well they are upholding their values and rules for behavior” Reimer said.

UW-Stout student Alex Kowalczyk is also concerned with the ban system. “They should also make sure there is due process on account bans. I’ve followed some people on YouTube that have [been] banned such as EightThoughts for offensive jokes or something. There should be an 18+ option for accounts if that’s the case.” Kowalczyk said.

The changes to the platform are expected in the near future, but the company has been quiet about what those changes are and when they will take place.