Retweet Redux: Twitter’s New Feature Hits Snag

That didn’t take long.

Facing an unexpected wave of errors, Twitter has halted the roll-out of its controversial retweet
feature
.

“We’re working on a few problems related to the ongoing roll-out,” the
company said in an update to its status blog.

That update, posted late Wednesday afternoon, back-pedaled from an
earlier note the company has posted addressing the snag, saying that the
number of errors appeared to be returning to “more acceptable levels.”

The sustained delay will no doubt be welcome news to many Twitter
traditionalists, many of whom greeted the native retweet feature with
unmasked hostility.

Specifically, users were upset that the new feature didn’t allow them to
append comments to someone else’s post they were passing along as a retweet.

Retweeting has become established as a staple of life on the
micro-blogging site, but, until this week, it had been a manual process.
Users could copy and paste the text of a tweet they wanted to pass along,
adding the hashtag #RT to designate it as a retweet.

Third-party Twitter clients had offered one-button retweeting, but with
this week’s rollout, Twitter began implementing the feature natively.

As with the various product launches and redesigns Facebook has rolled
out over its brief history, users lashed out at the changes, complaining
that the inability to add comments or alter the original tweet removes an
essential feature of the service.

“Without the ability to comment you have removed everything twitter is
supposed to be about: ‘Social,'” a user noted in a comment to
InternetNews.com‘s report on the changes.

Explaining the retweet feature, Twitter CEO Evan Williams anticipated the
furor that would greet disabling the ability to comment. The motive was
simplicity. Like other aspects of the native retweet feature, Twitter aimed
to remove confusion about the source of the tweet being shared by striking
awkward syntax, and comments, that could distort the original post.

The native feature also aimed to curb the practice of passing along bogus
tweets falsely attributed to certain users, often celebrities, which
Williams said had become a form of spam.

He also said that Twitter’s development team would consider reinstating
the ability to comment in future iterations of the retweet feature.

But that will have to wait. As of this writing, Twitter’s retweet feature
remains down, and the company did respond to a request for comment on when
it might be reinstated.

In Twitter’s most recent status update, the company said the errors
“should be resolved quickly and it will be back on for those who had the
Retweet feature previously. And we’ll then continue the incremental rollout
of this feature to everyone.”

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