This article was published on July 29, 2010

With new streaming API, Favorites will become Twitter’s Like Button

With new streaming API, Favorites will become Twitter’s Like Button

Ever noticed that little transparent star in the upper right hand corner of tweets that turns yellow when you click it? As most of you probably know, that’s how you Favorite a tweet. Up until now, when you do so, all that really happens is that Twitter stores that tweet under your Favorites history and it just sits there for either you or others to stumble upon.

The dead-end use of this feature that has been with Twitter forever, however, has meant that it has long been neglected by both the developer ecosystem and (most…yes Scoble loves favorites) users. Well, that’s about to change in a big way.

User Streams API

As we reported yesterday, Twitter is now testing its new User Streams API with popular third party clients Echofon and Tweetdeck (with others to certainly come soon). If you haven’t already seen the videos we took of how this new stream works, please do so now (also, screenshot below), then continue reading.

Other than the fact that the stream comes at you fast and furious (especially if, like our Zee, you follow 6,800 people), the integration of Favorites right into the stream is a bit, well, shocking. In the new API, Favorites are basically given the same weight as a retweet, sitting right there in the stream. What we saw in Zee’s test, however, was just people checking Zee’s tweets as Favorites – which is interesting enough – but then throw in people favoriting other people’s tweets and what do you have? Exactly – Twitter’s version of the Like Button.


This could/will have enormous impact if what we’ve seen so far from the User Streams API comes to everyone (remember, Twitter is still testing it). So how would this work? Well, retweets, for one are going to lose a little bit of their shine – unless they are favorited as well.

In a way, it could resemble how Facebook worked before the Share and Like buttons were merged – you retweet a tweet (Share) then others favorite it (Like). What this will of course result in then is two sets of sharing numbers: numbers of retweets and numbers of favorites, which will most likely in turn be combined by some smart startup into a super-retweet or something metric, i.e. retweets+favorites=super-retweet.

Expect Favorite buttons with bright yellow stars to start showing up on a site near you soon.