Twitter Favorites vs. Retweets

This has been troubling me for a while: When do you use Twitter favorites and when do you retweet?

A lot of people responded to my tweet with this question and said that they use it as a bookmarking tool on a mobile device to collect tweets with links or other interesting content that they want to look at in more detail on a PC at home or work.

I don’t think that’s the intended use of favorites on Twitter. Bookmarking is a very private practice. You collect stuff that you want to look at yourself, not others. Your Twitter favorites are public. They are available as an RSS feed to anyone who wants them. Imagine if every website you bookmarked was available publicly.

So if Twitter favorites are public, that makes them a tool for sharing tweets. I’ll look up your friends to see what tweets you’ve liked and are sharing with your followers (or whoever comes to your Twitter page). Now how does that make retweeting different? I’ll only end up retweeting the tweets that I like and I want my followers to see – just like favorites.

If you come across a funny tweet, what do you do with it to share it? Favorite it or retweet it? What’s the fucking difference?

To compare this to Facebook, favorites = like and retweet = repost/share. On Facebook, you ‘like’ things your friends say/post and you ‘repost’ or ‘share’ the things you want your friends to see as well. Is that how it is on Twitter too? Are favorites the tweets I like that I don’t care if my followers see and retweets are the ones I want them to see?

Did I answer my own question? Did I write all this shit out for nothing?!


3 thoughts on “Twitter Favorites vs. Retweets

  1. I’d say people are more right than you are. Yes bookmarking is not a public thing but on Twitter we Bookmark tweets with favorites only. For me, it’s the self-devised way but from here I can say that others also do precisely what I am doing. And one reason for that is that Twitter is so fast and real-time we rarely see others’ favorite tweets. Their timeline is enough to explain people to me.

    Do u read others’ favorites on Twitter, really?


  2. I don’t really mind people knowing what my feed list looks like, obviously the public feeds I read, and I would want to say that I believe the function of Favorites to be the same. Twitter is a lot about keeping things public than a lot of other services and the Favorites being a public RSS feed kind of a functionality makes sense.

    Retweets are generally forgotten in an hour or in a day, but favorites are stored for a longer period of time, that to me explains the need for Favorites


  3. The concept of Bookmarking is not strictly private. Social Bookmarking is a mode of sharing web content. There are dedicated applications for it, diigo for example. The word Favorite is used in a browser to mean Bookmark. Furthermore there are ways to share iE Favorites/Bookmarks in the browser application. If you prefer, describe Favorite-ing tweets, a strictly social mode of sharing in the twitter application, different to retweets in the output channel for Favorites is not your timeline.

    Certain ambiguity comes in sharing while not approving/endorsing content. The word Favorite (also Like in facebook) implies endorsement. A reason why one hesitates to Like a fb friend’s update/link about genecide?

    Favorite can mean Bookmark, and Bookmarks can be shared. In twitter is shared bookmarking of tweets an endorsement? Because Favorite and Bookmark albeit in another context are equivalents, and partly because Favorites are not output to the timeline, I say the answer is No. Retweets are not an endorsement either. I’ve seen people tweet exactly that. The only way to unambiguously endorse content in twitter is to do so explicitly in the tweet, eg. LOL.

    I concur with others who say Favorite in twitter is for bookmarking, and that it is not an endorsement.


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