Twitter has, for years now, grappled with how to tame abuse and build a more positive experience for users. In a July blog post, the company vowed to work “to increase the collective health, openness, and civility of the dialogue on our service.” Earlier this year, Twitter also introduced a bookmarking tool to allow users to save tweets without having to “like” them.
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. Some Twitter users, desperate for validation, endlessly retweet their own tweets, spamming followers with duplicate information.