Updated: Has Twitter dumped the hated Retweet function?

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Twitter’s Retweet functionality, which has caused so much consternation appears to have disappeared not long after it was introduced last month.

The Retweets area in the right side bar has gone and the RT function button on people’s profiles has gone as well.

The design of the Retweet feature created huge confusion over how RTs were attributed, plus different client applications treated RTs differently. Retweets of these retweets were even worse.

You can still can RT the old way and always have been able to. So it looks like either Twitter has listened to the storm of protests about it, or the feature is down while they change it. Often Twitter disables features temporarily if they’re causing load problems and to keep the rest of the site running.

We’ll update this post when there’s more information.

Update: We’re getting feedback that Retweets aren’t gone for everyone, so it’s clearly patchy across Twitter.

Update II: Looks like RT function was, as I speculated above, removed just temporarily. Back to the old routine people.

{Thanks to Orli for the tipoff)

  • http://tommorris.org/blog/ Tom Morris

    That’s really annoying. The new way of retweeting was so obviously better than the old way.

    • http://jasonkneen.blogspot.com Jason

      The new system was terrible. You couldn’t RT and comment, you couldn’t see easily in your timeline what was popular (specifically in apps like Tweetie etc) and there was no confirmation.

      It was badly executed and users weren’t properly consulted on how best to implement it.

      I hope it’s dead.

      • John Barker

        The RT was much needed. I hated when something was RT’ed by a number of my friends and clogged my stream. This method is less obtrusive and lets you ignore RT’s from those that RT stupid shit.

      • http://jasonkneen.blogspot.com Jason

        If people in your stream RT stupid shit then just unfollow them!

        The old system was great for seeing how much you’d been retweeted. You could look at your replies and see who is RT’d you AND apps like boxcar would notify you. Now? Nothing.

      • John Barker

        @Jason Occasionally retweeting stupid shit doesn’t merit an unfollow — I don’t follow the same people they do but I may be interested in many of the things that they post.

        And blame whatever app it is that you’re using for not providing the RT data to you. On Twitter’s website itself you can see how many times something was RT’ed and by whom.

      • http://jasonkneen.blogspot.com Jason

        Can’t blame the app, apparently it’s to do with the Twitter retweet API, at least that’s what @atebits are saying.

      • John Barker

        Then you would also know that Atebits supports the new retweet: http://support.atebits.com/faqs/tweetie/new-retweets

      • http://jasonkneen.blogspot.com Jason

        mm yes that’s my point. They only support the new retweet function and yet have issues because they can’t provide all the information the web site has because of Twitters Retweet API which isn’t complete.

      • http://www.webmaster-source.com redwall_hp

        To anyone who doesn’t like the new retweet function, read this: http://www.webmaster-source.com/2009/12/02/slashtags-adapting-twitter-culture-to-the-new-retweet/

        Also, see Ev’s post about it: http://evhead.com/2009/11/why-retweet-works-way-it-does.html

        The feature is badly needed. The real problem is that we’re in a transition faze where clients haven’t been updated to take advantage of it yet, and people are still using the old method.

        As for adding commentary, that’s where Slashtags come in.

      • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

        The new retweet feature is awesome, and you are an idiot.

        Seriously, when a bunch of my friends RT the same thing, I don’t see multiple copies of it anymore. I see the original tweet, with the original person’s image, and who I know that RT’d it.

        I prefer the new retweet feature so much that I’ve started unfollowing people who persist in RT’ing the old way. It’s annoying and cluttering. I don’t care if the material is good or not, you’re filling up my freakin’ bandwidth. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

        Oh, and if you’re one of those assholes who adds comments to a RT so that it just looks like a bunch of random characters strung together senselessly, then a) up yours and b) use the reply button instead. If you are adding original content from you, then REPLY. RT’ing the old way and adding your nonsense is just stealing their content to make it look like your own. You should be sued for copyright infringement, you retard.

      • Marco Buongiorno


        >> The middle man deserves no credit,
        >> and should receive none.

        A+ absolutely right. Unfortunately, most users don’t understand (or care about) it.

        >> BTW, anybody who RT’s me in the old style
        >> gets immediately blocked and reported as a
        >> spammer.

        I just unfollow them. Tired of all the RT messages. RT at the beginning, RT in the middle and sometimes even 3 times a RT in a single tweet. The new system is definitely better. Too bad that Twitter isn’t blocking any tweets with a RT in the message text :(

    • http://seo2.0.onreact.com Tad Chef

      When it is so obvious you surely can explain to me why?

      • John Barker

        Read my comment above.

  • http://www.shoutmeloud.com Harsh Agrawal

    Even i noticed it in the morning probably first one to know and tweet about it ;)

  • Joost Schuur

    Twitter often removes features temporarily when something goes haywire on their backend. Are you new here? ;)

    I suspect they’ll be back by tomorrow. I think they did a good job of explaining the feature to new users with little help windows when you encounter them for the first time.

    The only real gripe I’d have s that you can’t add your own commentary anymore, but you can also just post a quick follow-up after you retweet.

  • gfan
  • http://www.geekword.net Muhammad Ali

    It seems like a temporary removal as it has been done in the past

  • @Cosmunity

    The new retweet of twitter was my favorite way of sharing information with my followers, I prefer it far above the RT because with one click on a button it’s much faster to use it as cut and paste and modification of the text before hitting update. But a better name for the feature is perhaps ‘Share’ the regular retweet stays intact. So no reason for hating the share function. A real RT button can also become implemented for a simple retweet with RT added in front of the 140 chars message and a way to edit the text before hitting return.
    I hope the Share function comes back, and in addition a RT button also for a simple retweet, and also the functionality for their list entries.

    I prefer that Share, but I don’t need those Retweet lists, with favorites it’s OK. The limit of 20 lists is also OK. But I see also a huge need for a twavatar followers flag, as now you have to click twavatar to see is in action ‘message’ is there, when a follower is there of you or not. The pull-down list menu is also nice and better when possible over the twavatars to let us click lists there as going each time to the user tweets.

    Anyway Twitter is a nice and great way for communications we all love, improvements are always welcome. Thx a lot Twitter team.

    • http://www.senderok.com Allen MacCannell @ SenderOK

      Brilliant @Cosmunity

      It is amazing how few people “get it” that, even if the new function was fun to use, it was definitely *not* an RT = Retweet, but rather a “Share This” or “Like This = LT – at least according to how I thought we all defined such things before @Ev decided to change the definitions.

      Imagine if you woke up one morning and everyone was calling a truck a car and a dog a cat.

      Or if people were calling a laptop a desktop?

      Imagine if Digg changed its Digg This function to say ReTweet this.

      That is the feeling I got when it seemed that 1 out of 3 Twitter users said they enjoyed the new function. It was never *relevant* whether they liked the function or not – it simply wasn’t an RT except that someone very influential – at Twitter founder – had decided to change the definition of what an RT was…while most users like myself continued to RT the old fashioned way (the SMA-RT way).

      Why do I mostly refuse to use the new button when using the web interface (when one uses an app one has to RT the traditional way)?

      1) Most people don’t construct their tweets properly, economizing on space and spelling words properly, etc. – I won’t forward such tweets to further promote my brand image (we wouldn’t be tweeting on company time if RTs weren’t about promoting one’s brand via shared sense of community) unless I get to edit first.

      Heck, I often have to remove sarcasm or a political jab from an intro to a cool link. My company doesn’t need to forward the political jab. If I have to seriously rewrite someone else’s tweet, I will put the word Via instead of RT…but that is really easy to do with conventional RT buttons (such as the one in the fantastic PowerTwitter Firefox extension that was rendered temporarily useless by Twitter’s update to its new feature).

      Adding commentary is the least of my concerns in terms of getting to edit – and you know what? Attribution is what the Retweeter *wants* it to be. We don’t need to be led by the hand into making sure we don’t plagiarize. Free speech always carries the danger of plagiarizing what someone else thought of.

      After all, the Retweeter is taking an initiative. The Retweet is, in the end, copyright to the Retweeter.

      This new Share function clearly makes the RT copyright to the original poster and, in fact, the URL of the RT is the original tweet. Thus, this share function is just a metadata appearance of the original tweet – which can be deleted at any time by the original poster.

      2) Did I mention that companies – businesspeople – anyone with a cause – don’t RT out of altruism – they want their OWN avatar branding the tweet going out. This is Common Sense 101. They also want to be thanked for the RT, hopefully not with a direct thank you but with a business relationship or the other person reading and RTing something that they wrote.

      3) With this new Share – “Like This” LT function, the “middle-man” loses credit big-time. The price for the original poster always getting “proper attribution” is that all the people who formed the tree of networks that got the original tweet before the Retweeter, do NOT get public credit, at least in terms of showing up in Mentions and Timelines, etc. (they do appear on one of the rarely viewed Retweet pages of someone else who retweeted the same tweet + the original poster).

      So you will RT something and you will instantly NOT get any credit if 100 of your followers RT it seconds later. All the credit accrues to the original poster – who herself doesn’t notice until she remembers next month to visit her new Retweet page…which kills the incentive to RT except for the most altruistic nice people.

      • http://www.storyofmylife.com/antje antje wilsch

        i’m scared that I agree with you – means we spend wayyyyyy too much time on twitter

      • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

        1) If you’re editing somebody else’s words, then you’re a jerk who is stealing their content and passing it off as your own. Why not come up with something original? If you just want to repost a link, then repost the freakin’ link. Don’t edit my words and then continue to attribute them to me, jerk.

        If you want to RT something I said and attribute it to me, then that’s fine. But don’t you dare edit it. Not one word. Not one character. Not ever. That’s total unprofessional bullshit. I’ll block people who pull that crap.

        And if you want to add commentary to something I said, then use REPLY. That’s what it is there for. If somebody sees the reply, then there’s a nice metadata link right back to my original tweet, where they can see if for themselves.

        Old-style retweets are copyright infringement, plagiarism, or misquoting. Take your pick.

        2) If you’re a company RT’ing and putting your own name and avatar on it, then you’re being absolutely shady by stealing other people’s content and passing it off as your own.

        Nowhere on my Twitter page is there any sort of license giving you the rights to reproduce my content. Even with attribution, I should sue your ass for doing that. The only thanks you deserve is a Cease and Desist letter.

        3) The middle man deserves no credit, and should receive none. The only credit he should have is to have the good sense to read things and share them with his friends/followers. He didn’t create the content, and he shouldn’t receive credit for that content.

        BTW, anybody who RT’s me in the old style gets immediately blocked and reported as a spammer. So go right ahead, if you like. Just be aware of the consequences.

      • http://www.senderok.com Allen MacCannell @ SenderOK

        BTW, I just read @Ev’s explanation from November 10th.

        He doesn’t talk of how much server space this could save by making all “RTs” just links to the original tweets. :-)

        He does talk as if the “RT” needs to be copyrighted to the original tweeter, not in so many words…imagine if we RTd someone famous making a gaffe – the new system allows that person to delete their original tweet and, thus, delete all the Retweets. Too convenient.

        The fundamental difference people seem to have on this is whether the Retweet is content written by the Retweeter or Original Poster.

        Now get this. He says “Even if you know @AleciaHuck, there’s no benefit to having her picture in there”


        Let me repeat this in slow motion:

        He says “Even if you know @AleciaHuck [sample retweeter], there’s no benefit to having her picture in there”

        I think Alecia would disagree.

        People press the Update button to get avatar credit for having brought something to light for their followers.

        Consider that Alecia is in the timeline of people who follow 55,000 people and her RT might be the only thing they ever see from her. Sure, she didn’t write the original tweet but she has to gain some (actually a lot of) benefit from forwarding it or she might just decide to go read Facebook or have some coffee.

        Or maybe this particular Alecia loves the new function. ;-)

        Here is the TechCrunch post that seems to have influenced @Ev to implement this new function and name it RT instead of Share or LT:


      • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

        Why should Alecia get any credit? She didn’t write the content in question.

        If all you’re capable of doing is pointing out other people’s good content and not creating content of your own, then *you’re not doing anything valuable*. Get off the internet and stop wasting space already.

      • http://www.senderok.com Allen MacCannell @ SenderOK

        All good twitterers mix their own “content’ with about 20-33% retweets – and the RT culture is about friends promoting each other’s ideas a lot more than about anyone getting concerned about whether their content was edited for space or errors. @Ev says the new function is just a prototype and it can be upgraded to allow things like editing. He doesn’t make arguments about his old style being unprofessional or rude and attributing a link to a friend is not something he or most people would see as stealing simply because you fixed your friend’s spelling error from the original tweet.

        This is a bit like the Google-Newspaper discussion except most good Twitterers mix their own content with the occasional RT of their friends which is always, in 99.9% cases, appreciated (someone would get angry if you implied they said something they really hadn’t but not if you capitalized their use of the word texas or fixed that spelling error).

        It sounds like there would be no misunderstanding here if one said the use of Via should be used instead of RT if a change is made to the original tweet – but in practice the definition of “change” is pretty broad as, again, nobody minds others fixing spelling mistakes, etc. Writing “Via” is recommended if one paraphrases a lead to a link for instance. It would be rude to put words in the other person’s mouth. It isn’t rude, however, to simply omit the “Holy blank” swear-word the original tweeter may have written before a lead-in to a link. Twitter culture understands that some people have followers who don’t need to see bad language.

        The disconnect here is in the idea that the retweet is something that belongs to the original tweeter which is the definition of the new RT function but not the definition of the old RT as Twitter culture developed to know it. Before November, an RT was a tweet like any other which belonged to the Retweeter like any blog posting he or she would make on their blog page.

        A tweet, including an old RT, is a mini-blog posting copyright to the person doing it regardless of whether they write the letters RT or Via or Hattip or Thanx to at the beginning of something that says “someone else said this”.

        An “original tweet” is often a link to something that we ourselves wrote on the web or something that any of us found on the web which is itself often a derivative of links to other content.

        Most of us write lots of original tweets with links or without and Twitter culture is such that, in the ~20% of retweets that we make to help each other out – the retweeter gets a big thank you and gets followed as a result or retweeted on something else. Obviously, it is in the retweeter’s interest to credit the original tweeter as well as the person he or she follows who brought it to their attention. Without the middeman retweeting before you, the original tweeter doesn’t get retweeted at all and there is less motivation for the RTs to happen. Thus, people still RT what I write more the old fashioned way because they want credit for showing my original content to their followers. The old style is simply never going away and there isn’t really going to be any culture war over the difference.

        While @Ev may even bring editing into the new feature (according to his explanation), some people will do it the new way and a lot will do it the old way. Few people will be unfollowed for doing old RTs.

        A Twitter scene where anyone gets upset about having their spelling fixed or extraneous space removed barely exists. Twitter culture just isn’t that way and probably won’t become that way. @Ev said in his explanation that the current New RT function is just preliminary.

        I don’t often add comments in RTs but the old definition of RT in Twitter culture said its fine if the comment is clearly marked as such.

        Again, if you replaced the letter RT with Via, nobody would be arguing that free speech gives people the right to paraphrase or edit any friendly introduction to what someone else said.

        The semantics of what the letters RT mean – “copyright to original twitterer” or “copyright to retweeter” are interesting, however and similar to the discussion of whether Google is “stealing content”.

        It isn’t @Ev’s intention to eliminate the old style nor will Tweetdeck, likely, eliminate the old style. It would be best if @Ev just renamed the new RT something like “Share This” or “Like This” (LT) so there aren’t minor skirmishes over who owns the copyright to a reference to something.

      • http://www.senderok.com Allen MacCannell @ SenderOK

        For newcomers to Twitter, what is being discussed here is an exchange of tweets with a friend like the following:

        Earlier today a caterer friend described the delicious food she was preparing in an original tweet on Twitter. I then wrote an original but derivitive tweet on my personal account, technically copyright to me, that said “She is making us hungry RT @Clabarth Working on codfish mini-quiches recipe for my Christmas catering menu. Needing more ideas..”

        See the link below:

        Her thank you tweet is here (note the lack of hostility about me adding the “She’s making us hungry” comment to her tweet content):

        Her original tweet is here:

        Now…if I had used the new “Retweet” function that @Ev introduced as a prototype and that Mike Butcher noted is “hated” by many users, then my tweet would have been exactly this at the top of my time-line (the original tweet URL and all):

        But I am not a caterer. It would have been out of context in my time-line without my lead-in about getting hungry because followers who click through to my web timeline would have expected me to be at work and not in a catering kitchen producing fabulous quiches.

        So I had to RT the old-school way to make it very clear that I was introducing them to a great twitterer who loves food (@Ev uses the term old-school RT himself).

        Now I could have said Via or Hat-tip instead of RT but the Twitter culture of the 1700 followers on that account would then assume I was paraphrasing her instead of showing exactly what she wrote after the RT (and after the “She’s making us hungry” comment). Besides, the term RT is shorter than Via or “Here is what she said:” and every character counts on Twitter.

        Could I have replied to her in a tweet that simply said “You’re making us hungry” and then done a newfangled RT as a separate tweet (share)? Yes, but neither she nor my readers would have seen the context (she would have only immediately seen my @Reply but wouldn’t have known for days that I also retweeted her). Better to have replied to her with her original tweet text in the reply, but then people would wonder why I was doing a reply instead of an RT.

        Millions make such lead-in comments to what others say. Whether they use RT or Via is semantics at the moment. @Ev is apparently aware of this issue and suggested there may be some additions to the new RT function.

      • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

        Allen MacCannell: The old style of RT’ing was unprofessional and rude all along. The fact that Ev said something else doesn’t make it true.

        Again, steal my content and I’ll block and report you. That’s the way it is.

      • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

        Oh, BTW, anybody that does “20-33% retweets”, will get unfollowed and blocked by me in a heartbeat. I’m not interested in your aggregated content. If you have something to say, then say it yourself. Otherwise, STFU.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Angel_ita Anya

    Why didn’t they just implement the same RT function that Tweetdeck has. This one is simple and sufficient.

  • http://www.technicavita.org Technicavita

    Looks like its working again via API (tweetdeck)

  • http://blog.taiwan-guide.org/ David on Formosa

    Evan Williams wrote a post explaining in detail why Twitter introduced the retweet function. While it makes sense I thought the implementation was less than perfect. I hope Twitter is tweaking it to fix some of the problems. It seems strange that the Twitter status blog hasn’t been updated with any news about this though.


  • http://komplettie.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/twitter-doubting-retweet-functionality/ Twitter Doubting Retweet Functionality? « Komplett Ireland

    […] folks like TechCrunch jumped to ask whether or not Twitter had finally ditched the by-now much maligned retweet […]

  • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

    Looks like it’s coming back again people

    • http://www.apovia.de/ Jan

      Agree – for me everything looks like before.

  • kralik

    who RT’d or tweeted this article, or its update I or Update II?

  • http://www.productful.com Joe Haugh


    I still have the RT functionality, is there any reason some people have it and not others? I like it , it is a nice and quick way to retweet tweets you like.



  • http://www.agm.me.uk/blog Alistair MacDonald

    I agree the new RT function is not likes by everyone, but I think to refer to it as “Hated” is a little strong. I feel there are more people who like it than hate it.

    Among my following It appears to have been adopted quickly and is working well. I use to suffer from the problem of the same this appearing in my stream a dozen times because so many people have RTed it, but now it appears once. Personally I think the feature is great and exactly what I wanted.

  • http://yiannopoulos.net/ Milo Yiannopoulos

    Another epic graphic, Mike. Nice work.

  • http://hadakushal.tk/ Kushal

    Yes we can?

    “You can still can RT the old way”

  • http://powerofthought.wordpress.com/ Jason

    RT – get out and stay out!

  • John Carney

    I like twitter’s retweet, and am sick of people whining about how much they hate it. Nobody is holding a gun to anyone’s head forcing them to use it.

    • http://jasonkneen.blogspot.com Jason

      Actually if you use clients like Tweetie you are forced to use it or have to use “quote tweet” instead as the old RT functionality is no longer supported.

      So some people are forcing it’s use.

  • http://coldacid.net Chris Charabaruk

    The only thing bad about the new Retweet is the inability to add your own comments to a tweet. I only ever retweet the old way now when I’m using an app that doesn’t support the new way, or when I want to state something as part of the RT.

    All you haters need to calm down and look at the benefits without all your bias.

    • http://tommorris.org/blog/ Tom Morris

      Not being able to add a comment is a feature, not a bug, in my opinion. If you want to comment on another person’s tweet, use reply.

  • http://www.honeytechblog.com Honey Singh

    Just to update you, Retweet function is back into the Twitter !

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    Not only is the RT function back but they’ve added some new functionality. Nice to be able to see all RTs in a list that you’ve sent or from others have RT’d you.

    • Amy

      That’s actually a thing that has been there since the beginning. :)

  • http://www.pixelsurge.com BrianTJ

    Glad to see (from comments) that RT is back – I have yet to get to grips with how we are meant to make good use of it so it would have been a shame if Twitter had removed before I’d caught up!

  • William Tucker

    Great post Mike… Zzzzzz…

  • tommy

    damn, i just realized that you can’t comment on retweets with the twitter implemention. thats the last time i use it. back to the clients. bad twitter…

  • TechFanBoi

    Am I really the only one that sees why Twitter integrated the new RT function this way? Obviously, it exposes/introduces you to people (in your stream) that you aren’t normally exposed to. Thus extending Twitter’s reach, relevance and staying power. ‘Nuff said…

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