Twitter has made users jump through an additional hoop before they retweet a message on their platform, as part of a series of temporary measures purportedly designed to fight disinformation ahead of the US election.
In a blog post, the company announced that people who want to retweet a message will be directed to the ‘quote tweet’ composer, where they’ll be encouraged to add a comment before publishing the tweet. However, users can leave the composer blank and simply click the retweet button without adding their own commentary.
Additionally, starting next week, Twitter will direct people who try to retweet messages that are flagged as misleading or harmful toward “credible information about the topic before they are able to amplify it.”
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The company will also add new warnings and restrictions on tweets written by US political figures that are deemed misleading. US-based accounts with more than 100,000 followers, or accounts that “obtain significant engagement,” will also be subjected to heightened monitoring.
Twitter said that the new measures were designed to clamp down on the spread of misinformation that could potentially interfere with November’s presidential election. The temporary changes are also designed to encourage “thoughtful consideration” before tweeting, the company argued.
The temporary tweaks received mixed reviews from users.
Hey everyone, we made a temporary change to the Retweet function.
When you hit the Retweet button, you can either add a comment to Quote Tweet or leave it blank and hit the Retweet button. pic.twitter.com/SkkoqAqXsV
— Twitter (@Twitter) October 21, 2020
Some argued that it was unfair to make retweeting more cumbersome since far from all Twitter users are American and many are not “impacted directly by your elections.”
— Subrahmanyam KVJ (@SuB8u) October 21, 2020
American political commentator Dave Rubin saw a reflection of ‘reality war’ in Twitter’s retweet mechanism change.
Twitter changing the retweet method (for some people?) days before the election.
We are in a Reality War.
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) October 21, 2020
Countless users fumed that the retweet changes were the “worst” feature Twitter has ever added, while others expressed frustration that the platform continues to drag its feet on popular requests such as an edit option or organizable bookmarks.
Jack, why add the extra friction without prior clarification? This is bullshit, I'm sorry. I thought you stood for free speech.https://t.co/ud0bBhOO5h
— Melik Manukyan 🇦🇲 (@melikmanukyan) October 21, 2020
this is the worse feature you’ve added 😀
— dream2 (@MadzDreaming) October 21, 2020
Dear Twitter, your fiddling with the retweet function is basically idiotic.
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) October 21, 2020
Some users speculated that Twitter is adding ‘friction’ to suppress information it does not want to be spread.
I really don’t like this new “feature”. It adds friction to the act of retweeting, @jack.
And this is *very* suspicious as every single tech company tries to get rid of friction, and not add it.
Unless the goal is to avoid people retweeting stuff that some @Twitter don’t like.
— Luca Bertagnolio (@lucaberta) October 21, 2020
Still, there were plenty who didn’t understand what the fuss was about, noting that the retweet change just requires an extra click and could hardly be considered inconvenient.
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