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Twitter swaps star for heart as its new favorite icon

The switch to a "more expressive" symbol comes as the microblogger is trying new ways to get a mainstream audience to love it.

Twitter thinks heart beats star.

Will Twitter users ❤ the heart?

The social network said Tuesday that the familiar star icon on tweets used to express approval has morphed into a heart icon. Now known as a "like," Twitter's new icon will also let people favorite the six-second videos on Twitter-owned Vine -- similar to what they can already do on Twitter's live-streaming Periscope.

Twitter's switch to the heart comes as the site, despite its cultural relevancy, is having a hard time getting a mainstream audience to love it. It's also seeking ways to make itself simpler to use and, therefore, more attractive to both users and advertisers.

Twitter's 320 million users might like a lot of things, "but not everything can be your favorite," said Akarshan Kumar, a Twitter product manager. Kumar noted that the star could be confusing, especially for newcomers.

"The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones," Kumar said. "The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people."

By midday Tuesday, the change from a star-shaped favorite button to a heart-shaped like button had inspired more than 24,000 tweets, with about 80 percent of them expressing approval of the switch, according to social-media analysis platform Brandwatch.

Making easier connections with people is Twitter's goal as it continues to revamp. Last month, the San Francisco-based company updated the service with Moments, a feature of curated tweets, videos and images of major trending events, including breaking news, major sporting events and concerts.

The updates are among the more visible changes instituted by CEO Jack Dorsey since his return to the job last month. Behind the scenes, some of the decisions he's made include laying off 8 percent of its workforce, downsizing the engineering team to make it "smaller and nimbler" and finding a new executive chairman. Dorsey said he's not done making changes.

"I've challenged our teams to look beyond assumptions about what makes Twitter the best place to share what's happening," he said last week in an earnings conference call. "I'm confident our ideas will result in a service that's far easier to understand, and much more powerful."

Update, 1:31 p.m. PT: Adds information from Brandwatch.