Twitter has made a lot of changes this year, some of them quite controversial, like Stories, er, Fleets, and few of them were actually what users wanted, like editing Tweets. One of the social media giant’s small but contentious changes came on the road to the 2020 US Elections and pretty much forced users to Quote Tweet rather than simply retweeting a post. It didn’t sit well with Twitter users who also found a way around that anyway. Now Twitter is rolling back that change primarily because it didn’t really work the way they presumed it would.
Twitter’s justification for prompted Quote Tweets was to “encourage more thoughtful amplification.” In other words, they wanted users to add their own commentary to a tweet or thread rather than just mindlessly retweeting something. Given controversial topics like COVID-19 and the US elections, it was Twitter’s attempt to curb spreading misinformation or fake news without actually forcing the matter.
It didn’t sit well with Twitter users, partly because of the extra steps they had to take as well as the consequence of a quoted tweet. In contrast to a plain retweet, a Quote Tweet focuses more on the one that quoted the post and not the post itself. For a certain class of Twitter users, namely artists and performers, this meant less attention to their own tweets and accounts and more on the ones quoting them, which can sometimes lead to misunderstanding and wrong identification of ownership.
Twitter also realized that the system wasn’t actually working anyway. Some users have discovered that leaving the Quote Retweet blank practically retweeted the tweet the old-school way. And those that did use Quote Retweets either just used single words (45%) just to meet the requirement or had less than 25 characters (70%). In other words, it was pretty much the exact opposite of thoughtful amplification.
The prompted Quote Retweet is now being rolled back and retweeting is back to its old behavior, letting you choose between a simple retweet or a quote tweet. Twitter does say that it is still working on other strategies to get users to add meaningful thoughts and will still prompt users to read up on certain topics before they retweet.