Twitter has announced that it’s reverting back to its regular retweet process after removing straight retweeting as an option in the US back in October, within the lead-up to the Presidential Election.
The hope was that by prompting users to Quote Tweet, instead of just Retweeting, it would make users think more carefully about what they were sharing, instead of blindly amplifying messages across the network. If you have to think about why you’re sharing something, and add your own thoughts, maybe you’ll be less inclined to help spread misleading or false messages.
In practice, that kind of worked, but not really:
Twitter says that the use of Quote Tweets did increase as a result, “but 45% of them included single-word affirmations and 70% had less than 25 characters”.
So people were using quote tweets more often, instead of just retweeting (it was still possible to just retweet without adding any text into the field, so you could still blank retweet, technically), but they weren’t exactly adding their own thoughts or logic, which was the desired effect.
“The increase in Quote Tweets was also offset by an overall 20% decrease in sharing through both Retweets and Quote Tweets.”
So people also slowed their engagement overall, which Twitter definitely doesn’t want. Which is why it’s now rolling back the change, and enabling users to choose between a Retweet and Quote Tweet when they go to share.
It was an interesting experiment either way – the idea was an extension of Twitter’s small prompts to add friction within the tweet process, which have seen good results in other contexts.
Back in June, Twitter added a new pop-up alert on articles that users attempt to retweet without actually opening the article link and reading the post.
Those alerts have seen users open articles 40% more often, and Twitter sought to replicate the same by adding a similar, small step within the retweet process, as part of its broader election integrity approach.
It may not have delivered the desired results in this instance, but it’s good to see Twitter trying new things, which it says it’ll keep doing:
“We’ll continue to focus on encouraging more thoughtful amplification. We believe this requires multiple solutions – some of which may be more effective than others.”
There may be other ways to add simple, effective friction in problematic areas, and as such, it’s good to see that Twitter will look to continue its experiments.
But now, retweeting goes back to normal, which will be welcome news for the many users who express frustration at the change.