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The Evolution of Retweeting

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Source: Technology Review

Twitter has announced that it will establish a set format for retweeting, or reposting another user's message, for use within the micro-blogging service. Retweeting serves as a way to quickly spread ideas and comments to new groups of users. However, it is far less consistent than some quoting methods used on other discussion forums and many variations exist. Citing the user name also takes up space in the 140-character limit, so some users paraphrase or omit part of the original text, occasionally creating incorrect quotes.

Twitter recently announced that it will implement a button to allow users to automatically repost another user's tweet, which will make it quicker and easier to accurately retweet. The button does not allow users to alter the original post, and will add the image and name of the quoted user to the tweet. Microsoft Research social media scientist Danah Boyd says the retweet button will not fit the needs of many users interested in retweeting, who do not want to simply relay the message but add their own comments to the quote and open the discussion to new users. However, Boyd says the button will open up retweeting to a wide audience of users who never retweeted before.

Web developer Dan Zarrella says retweeting is an elegant viral mechanism. "The scale and data you can extract from [retweets] has never been possible with [other] viral or word-of-mouth communications," he says.

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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