Retweets are back to normal as Twitter ends its quote tweet experiment

The experiment didn’t actually make people more thoughtful.

Mike Blake / Reuters

Twitter is ending its experiment that encouraged users to quote tweet rather than retweet. The company first implemented the change in October as part of its work to prepare for the 2020 presidential election. Twitter said at the time that it hoped that the change would remind users to be more thoughtful about what they share.

That’s not what happened, according to the company. “The use of Quote Tweets increased, but 45 percent of them included single-word affirmations and 70 percent had less than 25 characters,” Twitter says. “The increase in Quote Tweets was also offset by an overall 20 percent decrease in sharing through both Retweets and Quote Tweets.” The change was also confusing for users, many of whom didn’t understand that a regular old retweet was, in fact, still possible (even though Twitter attempted to clarify).

Despite the somewhat clumsy experiment, though, Twitter says it will “continue to focus on encouraging more thoughtful amplification,” such as its feature that reminds people to read articles before they tweet. That one, according to Twitter, has been successful.