Posted November 11, 2009 7:13 am by with 2 comments

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RetweetYesterday, Twitter started to officially roll out its own retweet function that has been the cause of some serious consternation from the Twittersphere (or whatever silly term you want to apply to the Twitter community).

Before we go into any detail please note the following and make sure you filter your reactions through the most important piece of data that you will need to know about this whole thing: you don’t have to use the new function. You can do whatever you want with regard to keeping your version of the status quo or adopting Twitter’s new retweet function. Also, this is not the final product as Evan Williams points out in his explanation of this overly controversial move by Twitter.

Overly controversial? Yup. While this can be viewed as a fundamental shift in how Twitter is used it’s not like some heavy-handed edict has been passed down to the users of Twitter in a “it is what it is” manner. No, it’s just another option. If you feel the need to complain even knowing this piece of information then you are likely to be the lottery winner that would say “Gee, if only I had won it last week I would have had more”. In other words, you probably complain about everything.

Back to the story. TechCrunch sums up the changes as follows

If you do happen to have it now, here’s a few interesting notes about the new feature (at least on

First, there is a new Retweets area in the right side bar. This allows you to see “Retweets by others”, “Retweets by you”, and “Your tweets, retweeted”. While the UI for the main homepage retweets can be a bit confusing at times, this Retweet area is laid out pretty nicely, as it is easy to see who exactly retweeted what.

Second, as co-founder Evan Williams noted today, there is an easy way to turn off retweets from individual users. Simply click on their profile and make sure the Retweet logo (the circular arrows) below their name is not highlighted green. This means that it’s off and you will not see Retweets from that user in your timeline. That’s great for users who go overboard with the feature and muck up your stream.

Third, if you do hate the new Retweet way, just don’t use it. Nothing is stopping you from still using the “RT …” syntax. The new Retweets simply give you an easy way to highlight something to your followers with the click of a button.

I HIGHLY recommend you visit the Ev Williams blog post for his complete explanation of the who, what, where and why of this change. Otherwise, this truly is what it is. Twitter has simply recognized that their third party developer and user system has created something of value. They are now trying to corral it in the best way they know how and leaving it open for debate and use. It’s actually that simple.