Twitter Reverts to Standard Retweet Behavior

Following a failed experiment to encourage more thoughtful online sharing, Twitter this week announced the return of good old fashioned retweets.

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the company in October began inviting users to quote tweet — adding personal commentary before boosting a post — rather than mindlessly retweeting. “Our goal with prompting QTs (instead of retweets) was to encourage more thoughtful amplification,” according to Twitter Support. “We don’t believe that this happened, in practice.”

Sure, the number of quote tweets increased (likely because users were sent directly to the QT composer), but that win was offset by an overall 20% decrease in sharing through retweets and quote tweets. And of those who did quote tweet, nearly half (45%) included only “single-word affirmations,” while another 70% featured fewer than 25 characters. The change was also confusing to some users, who didn’t understand they could bypass the prompted quote by simply pressing “.”

That’s not quite the effect — an increased likelihood “that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation” — that Twitter was aiming for. “Considering this, we’ll no longer prompt quote tweets from the retweet icon,” the social network said on Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to focus on encouraging more thoughtful amplification,” Twitter Support continued. “We believe this requires multiple solutions — some of which may be more effective than others,” like prompting folks to read articles before sharing.

You can, of course, still use the quote tweet function: Click on the retweet icon (two arrows in a circle) to either retweet directly or infuse the post with your own notes before sharing.

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