Excursions by Amit Gawande

Twitter should kill Retweets first

Retweets prey on users’ worst instincts. They delude Twitter users into thinking that they’re contributing to thoughtful discourse by endlessly amplifying other people’s points—the digital equivalent of shouting yeah, what they said” in the midst of an argument. And because Twitter doesn’t allow for editing tweets, information that goes viral via retweets is also more likely to be false or exaggerated. According to MIT research published in the journal Science, Twitter users retweet fake news almost twice as much as real news. Other Twitter users, desperate for validation, endlessly retweet their own tweets, spamming followers with duplicate information.

This is exactly the reason Twitter needs to eliminate retweet feature first — a lot before their proposed killing of the like button. It doesn’t matter how valuable the retweet option is as a signal to Twitter’s algorithm. It has for long been exploited to make it a hostile platform for every voice that should matter. And it needs to disappear first.

opinion twitter