As Twitter grapples with its explosive growth over the past months, the service has begun formalizing practices its users created. First, it was the use of “@” to identify a user’s handle, followed by hashtags (#[term]) to better organize tweets on related topics and aid in searching. Most recently, Twitter has formalized the retweet process. Early Twitter users adopted the “RT @[handle]” syntax to indicate tweets that were the product of another user. Now, users for whom the beta feature has been activated will find a Retweet button () on individual tweets. The resulting tweet is marked with the chasing-line icon in place of the familiar “RT” tag. Below is a screenshot of the announcement, which includes an example of how retweets are now displayed.
As co-founder Evan Williams explained earlier this week, the move was in part motivated by Twitter’s desire to standardize a function that has become central to the service. As part of this new feature, users will only see retweets from others that they follow, a change intended to cut down on the redundancy that can result when a popular tweet is retweeted by many users. That decision, while controversial, should reduce the clutter (“noisiness” as Williams referred to it) that some Twitter users have complained about. Personally, I think the move was a smart one, because the appearing/disappearing act the Retweet function has played recently was getting annoying.