Back in October before the U.S. election campaign went into full swing, Twitter changed the way we retweeted links or tweets on the platform. They prompted you to say something or quote tweet that before you actually retweeted it so you could add your thoughts or something. But from their perspective it somehow failed and so now they’re bringing back the old way we retweeted, giving users the option of just straight RT-ing or quote tweeting it if you had thoughts.
Twitter was pretty honest about why they were going back to the old way of doing retweets. While Quote Tweets did increase (since yeah, you basically forced people to do this), 45% of them just used single-word affirmations and 70% of the quote tweets used less than 25 characters. And probably what really bothered Twitter was that there was a 20% decrease in retweets during the time when the automatic quote tweet was being implemented.
After learning from this product experience, we’re sharing an update: today Retweet functionality will be returning to the way it was before.
Here's what we saw while we prompted Quote Tweets (1/4): https://t.co/MzoDKy3d69
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) December 16, 2020
Twitter’s original goal for this experiment was to get people to be more intentional and thoughtful about the stuff that they retweet on the platform, especially in light of the pandemic and also the political situation in the U.S. But they probably realized that a lot of people just want to retweet stuff without having to add their own hot take or to think about what they actually mean by retweeting said content.
So now, the retweet functionality has gone back to the original where you can just retweet stuff at random and flood your timeline with stuff from your current fandom or a hot issue that everyone seems to be talking about. And of course, you always have the option to still quote tweet it in case you want to say something in addition to the content or in reaction to it. Let’s see if reverting back to the “old” way of retweeting will increase RTs once again.
Social media platforms like Twitter have been under intense pressure to crack down on those amplifying fake and misleading information, especially about the coronavirus. Expect more tools and changes in the future as they try to navigate these waters.