The “retweet” may be going the way of the “fail whale.” Select users of Twitter’s mobile app are now seeing the phrase “share with others” instead of “retweet” when they post another person’s tweet in their own timelines.
The change is one of Twitter’s many ongoing experiments to try to make its social network more engaging. User growth on Twitter has slowed continuously over time, and new data shows that most people who sign up don’t keep tweeting over the long-term. Other tests, such as an overhaul of user profile pages to make them more visual, indicate that Twitter may be trying to imitate the interface of Facebook, a more popular website with higher levels of user engagement.
The retweet was first invented by Twitter’s users rather than the company. In the early days users had to manually type “RT” to indicate that they were posting someone else’s message. Though Twitter formally adopted the retweet feature in 2009, the word itself is one of the many bits of insider jargon that new users have to learn to use the service effectively. Other quirks of Twitter, like the use of the @ symbol to directly tweet to other users, are also being phased out in certain tests. CEO Dick Costolo has said these long-used terms are “confusing and opaque” to new members.