Twitter's Native Retweet Is Back In Place

After taking the election off, the standard version of the native retweet is back. Will more outrage and misinformation return with it?

Twitter has reinstated the native retweet.

The retweet’s return to its standard position comes two months after Twitter pushed people to the Quote Tweet screen when they wanted to share a tweet (they could still click “retweet” but only from that screen). The company added the extra step shortly before the 2020 U.S. presidential election in an attempt to get people to share more thoughtfully.

According to Twitter, the experiment failed. “We hoped this change would encourage thoughtful amplification and also increase the likelihood that people would add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation,” the company said in a blog post Wednesday. “However, we observed that prompting Quote Tweets didn’t appear to increase context: 45% of additional Quote Tweets included just a single word and 70% contained less than 25 characters.”

Overall retweeting fell by 20% during the course of the experiment, a factor Twitter painted as de facto negative. Native retweets help information spread at lightning speed. In some cases, this can help get pressing information to people quickly, such as an active earthquake in their region. In other cases, the retweet can help spread misinformation, a problem that has plagued Twitter for years. Twitter did not share data on whether the experiment impacted information health on its service.

Playing for retweets also factors into Twitter’s outrage problem. People will ‘dunk’ on others hoping that it will spark enough anger in fellow users that they’ll retweet the dunk. Twitter also did not share data on whether the experiment impacted conversational health on the platform.

Twitter has declined multiple interview requests from Big Technology for a discussion about the retweet experiment. Reached via email, a Twitter spokesperson pointed Big Technology to the blog post and accompanying tweets from Twitter’s @TwitterSupport account.

Twitter will continue its initiative to ask if you want to read an article before retweeting it though. “We'll continue to focus on encouraging more thoughtful amplification,” the company said. “We believe this requires multiple solutions––some of which may be more effective than others.”

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