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The 411 on Twitter’s New Retweet Functionality

Twitter has recently launched a new retweet functionality intended to solve tweet attribution confusion, the repetitive nature of retweets, and messy editing of the original tweet. Since the functionality is still in BETA, not everyone has access to this feature yet. But Twitter is gradually rolling out the feature, so you should see this soon.

How the New Retweets Work

You can now retweet with a single click; just click “retweet” below someone else’s tweet:

Twitter then makes sure that you actually want to retweet this tweet:

After clicking “yes,” you will appear below the tweet you’ve retweeted, along with whoever else has retweeted this tweet. There’s also the option to undo the retweet:

The original tweet will then appear in your own Twitter stream, attributed to the person you retweeted:

When the people you follow retweet others using this new functionality, the users they retweet will start appearing in your Twitter stream. So instead of seeing the person you follow tweeting “RT @JohnSmith blah blah blah,” you’ll see John Smith in your twitter stream with his original tweet. Under the tweet, you’ll be able to see which person you follow has retweeted his tweet:

There’s also a new “retweets” link in the right-navigation, and this leads to a new retweet section where you can sort by retweets by everyone, retweets by you, and your tweets that have been retweeted.

The Pros of the New Retweets

There are several benefits of this new retweet functionality:

  • Cleaner retweets – When retweeted by person A and then re-retweeted by person B, it’s no longer confusing who wrote the original tweet.
  • The retweet page – It’s nice to be able to see retweets alone, including which of your tweets have been retweeted, and to refer back to your old retweets.
  • Less confusion for newbies – Many people have been turned off by the twitter lingo: “What on earth is a RT @???”
  • Others can’t edit you – Ever crafted the perfect tweet, only to have it torn apart when someone else “retweets” you? Now your original tweet will survive.

The Cons of the New Retweets

However, there are also reasons you might not want to use this new feature:

  • Links may be cut off – Only users logged into the Twitter website can see the new retweet format. If the tweet would have exceeded 140 characters including the RT @username, this will cut off the end of the tweet for users without BETA, users with a desktop platform like Tweetdeck, and logged out Twitter users. Since URLs are usually at the end of a tweet, this will make the URL non-functional.
  • Lack of commentary – Even if you don’t want to modify the original tweet, now the ability to comment before the RT @whoever is gone.
  • You can’t edit tweets – Even the most awesome tweets can have typos, and now you won’t be able to fix them before retweeting.
  • Less visibility in others’ Twitter streams – Retweeting others doesn’t seem to have the same appeal now that your name and icon don’t appear as prominently.
  • Others can’t retweet your retweet – If one of your followers wants to retweet your retweet, now there’s no way you can get credit for finding the tweet first; your follower will be directly retweeting the original tweet.

If the cons outweigh the pros for you, you don’t have to use this new functionality at all; you can continue using retweets the way you used to (RT @). However, you won’t be able to turn off the feature where you see people you do not follow in your twitter stream.

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