Twitter’s New Reactions Are Too Friendly for Twitter

Twitter’s New Reactions Are Too Friendly for Twitter
Screenshot: Shoshana Wodinsky (Twitter)

In yet another example of Twitter cribbing features from its direct competitors, the company announced it would be trying out emoji reactions for users across Turkey over the coming weeks with a possible wider rollout if all goes well. Per the company, the new emoji roster is meant to help people “quickly express themselves in conversations on Twitter,” in cases where a simple smash of the like button won’t cut it.

For a limited time, the company explained, Turkish Tweeters will be able to access four additional reactions on top of the big red heart the company rolled out back in 2015. This includes a thinking emoji (for those tweets that make you think), a sad emoji (for tweets that make you sad), a laughing/crying emoji (for tweets that make you laugh/cry), and a… clapping emoji (presumably for congratulatory tweets). Depending on how users respond to this small test, Twitter might swap in different emojis, or roll out these capabilities to other countries in the future.

All things considered, Twitter is relatively late to the emoji game — the company only rolled out reactions for Twitter DM’s last year, months after Linkedin first gave its users the power to react to fellow Linkedin-ers posts, and years after Facebook did the same. It’s also worth noting that out of these three, Facebook is the only one with the guts to include an “angry” reaction among their roster. Even though Twitter causes a lot of us to feel like flinging our laptops out the window in pure unbridled anger, the faces that Twitter chose for its own emoji slots feel kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. Leaving a teary face on some bile-laden political meme doesn’t carry the same bite as leaving a bright red ????.

Twitter actually did begin plans to formally roll out a wider emoji variety — including a side-eyed emoji, a party hat, and a bright read “100,” — back in 2015, but nixed those tests not long after. This slimmer emoji roster, Twitter says, came from the company’s attempt to “find emoji that are universally recognisable and represent what people want to express about Tweets.”

To figure that out, Twitter conducted surveys, looked at commonly used emojis across the site, and tried to figure out the “top emotions” that Tweeters wanted to express on the site across different cultures. Among those emotions, per Twitter, were “joy,” “interest,” “sadness,” “agreement,” and “curiosity,” which gives us the roster we’re seeing in Turkey right now. “Frustration,” and “anger” were apparently on the list too, but didn’t make the cut; ostensibly due to the company’s attempts to nudge users away from the Toxic Twitter convos we know and loathe. But depending on how this test is received, who knows — maybe we’ll see some middle-finger reactions on our feeds sometime in the future.