Artists and Entrepreneurs Aren’t Happy With Twitter’s Efforts to Discourage Retweets

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With less than a month until Election Day, Twitter announced it was upping its efforts to curb the spread of misinformation. But not everyone is happy with the approach.

On Friday, the social media giant revealed a set of temporary changes that discourages the use of the retweet function. Twitter claims the changes will make it much more difficult for users to spread false information related to the 2020 election, and will encourage users to be more considerate about the posts they share on their accounts.

“Twitter plays a critical role around the globe by empowering democratic conversation, driving civic participation, facilitating meaningful political debate, and enabling people to hold those in power accountable,” the company wrote in a blog. “But we know that this cannot be achieved unless the integrity of this critical dialogue on Twitter is protected from attempts — both foreign and domestic — to undermine it.”

Beginning on Oct. 20, any user who tries to retweet a post will be prompted to use a Quote Tweet instead. Twitter states this will encourage the individual to add their own commentary and explain why they’ve decided to amplify the tweet.

Starting next week, when people attempt to Retweet a Tweet with a misleading information label, they will see a prompt directing them to credible information about the topic before they can amplify it.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 9, 2020

We’ll temporarily ask people to add their own commentary before amplifying content by prompting Quote Tweets instead of Retweets. We hope this encourages everyone to consider why they are amplifying a Tweet, and brings more thoughts, reactions & perspectives to the conversation.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 9, 2020

“Though this adds some extra friction for those who simply want to Retweet, we hope it will encourage everyone to not only consider why they are amplifying a Tweet, but also increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation,” the blog post explained. “If people don’t add anything on the Quote Tweet composer, it will still appear as a Retweet.”

Twitter’s announcement was immediately met with criticism, as many artists and entrepreneurs expressed concern that the Quote Tweet prompt would reduce their engagement and drastically limit their reach. For example, if an artist’s work is Quote Tweeted, the artist will not benefit from any of the likes or comments that the QT receives. Twitter user @altermentality broke down the concerns in a lengthy thread that explained why artists and small business owners will likely be harmed by the QT prompt.

Here’s a quote tweet for you. Friends, you might see a lot of artists complaining about this today, but might not know why. I’m going to explain why this is such a bad thing, and why – if there’s any way around this – you shouldn’t QRT art no matter if twitter “prompts” you.

— ALTERMORTALITY (@altermentality) October 9, 2020

Other creatives expressed similar concerns.

I’ll use your qRT to say this: I am an artist based in Europe. My work relies on people RTing it and commenting it. When you create qRT I lose engagement on my own art I work hard on circulating here. All engagement goes to whoever made qRT.
You’re making it harder for artists.

— ? skirt ? busy surviving (@Skirtsan) October 9, 2020

Artists, content creators, and independent businesses depend on regular retweets to promote their content without having attention diverted. This decision is detrimental to AND directly targets their livelihood. Retract this and stop making your platform worse ?

— Aleks Le ? (@AleksLeVO) October 9, 2020

Twitter states that the global change will continue “through at least the end of Election week.” At that time, the company will assess whether or not to extend it.

Twitter also announced users, including candidates, will be prohibited from declaring a victory before results are called by “state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets.” The site will also remove any tweets that are intended to incite interference with election results.

Additionally, Twitter will utilize warning labels for tweets that purportedly include misleading information.

“When people attempt to Retweet one of these Tweets with a misleading information label, they will see a prompt pointing them to credible information about the topic before they are able to amplify it.” 

If a political figure tweets misinformation, Twitter will force other users to tap through a warning to read the message. Likes, comments, and retweets for these posts will also be disabled.

To continue to address the risk of misinformation, we’ll add warnings and further restrictions on Tweets with misleading information labels from accounts owned by US political figures, US-based accounts with 100,000+ followers, or Tweets that obtain significant engagement.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 9, 2020

You can read more about Twitter’s new changes here.

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