Twitter Unveils the Self-Retweet

Twitter Unveils the Self-Retweet
This is how to retweet yourself on Twitter, as of today: Go to one of your own tweets, click the little loopy "retweet" button, choose whether to quote yourself or simply retweet your own tweet back into the timeline of your followers, and watch the magic happen. Simple!

But should you? Something about retweeting your own tweet feels like becoming that person at the bar who repeats the punch line of a joke two or three times if the first laugh was unsatisfactory. "This was a good tweet," you might say to yourself. "But no one 'liked' it. Let's give the world another chance to be right about this tweet."

On Twitter, understandably, many are skeptical that the new feature will be used for anything other than the nurturing of narcissism.

There are a couple of reasons the self-retweet seems to invite worry. First, Twitter is a site where a core base of users have created - independent of the company itself - their own etiquette for using the site. When the company changes things about the way your timeline works, it can sometimes complicate or obliterate those rules.

This is also probably inevitable for the coming loss of ".@," an organically developed user solution for the fact that Twitter treats every tweet that begins "@" as a reply and limits who sees it. Twitter announced that it would also be making the .@ redundant at the same time it announced that it would finally allow users to retweet themselves, so we'll have to deal with both of these changes soon enough.

Second, the Internet is full of ways to talk about and represent yourself, but rarely friendly to new ways to do it, even teeny tiny iterative ones. When "selfies" were still emerging, the reaction was incredulous. Why would people take pictures of themselves and share them? Now we have official selfie stick policies for many public spaces. The self-retweet will hardly change the way the internet looks to the same degree the selfie did, but it sure will make it easier for people to re-insert themselves into a timeline that is, more and more, becoming unstuck in time.

But remember: No amount of self-retweeting powers will ever make a dumb tweet sound better.

© 2016 The Washington Post


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