Twitter Is Reportedly Phasing Out @-Replies From Its Service

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Twitter Is Reportedly Phasing Out @-Replies From Its Service

Twitter is reportedly in the alpha stages of experimenting with a new version of its service that would see @-replies become phased out. BuzzFeed reports that Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, first hinted at it this week during the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference.

She reportedly called @-replies “arcane” and stated “We are working on moving the scaffolding of twitter into the background.” The idea behind this change is that a more a more ‘streamlined’ approach to the service would help new users understand the concept of Twitter.

Schiller has been downplaying her statements when asked about them on Twitter but hasn’t ruled out the the fact that there may be some significant changes on the way.

When asked if @-replies could become pushed in the background, similar to what Twitter has done with retweets, Schiller stated: “There’s a lot of creative thinking going on around how to make Twitter more and more intuitive. Watch this space.” 

Some of this creative thinking surfaced in a screenshot posted by BuzzFeed which shows Twitter appears to already be phasing out @-replies in its Android alpha test group app. BuzzFeed obtained the screenshot from a user in the test group, which shows the app has eliminated user handles in replies to tweets, connecting them instead with just a conversation line.

The screenshot can be seen at the bottom of this page. Keep in mind it’s just a test and things could change at any time, but it does confirm that Twitter is in fact entertaining the idea of phasing out the version @-replies that exist today.

While this change could make the service more accessible to new Twitter users, it could upset some of the more loyal, long-time users. What do you think of this potential change? Is it a step forward for the service, or should they just keep @-replies the way they are?

Matt Southern
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing... Read Full Bio
Matt Southern
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  • James R. Halloran

    That’s a bummer to everyone who actually took the time to learn the ways of Twitter.

    If you took the time to learn it, it became a sort of “right of passage” to using the site seamlessly. Now, people who don’t belong there are only going to clutter it up with yet more unnecessary garbage.

    Not a fan of this move at all.

  • Paul Serwin

    This is interesting and I see pros and cons to both ways.

    Obviously the biggest benefit is that you have more characters to reply to somebody with (especially if they have a long screen name, like mine).

    On the other end, it may be confusing as to whether the tweet is a reply to somebody or a general tweet when viewing someone’s timeline.

    I’ll have to check out the interface & experience before I can say whether or not I like it.

  • Cory Torrella (@MarketingCory)

    The concept seems rough, but if it’s anything like they did with the Retweet, this will be an improvement. My only hope is that it makes tracking conversations easier, especially if the conversation involves multiple people. It’s hard to have a conversation with 4-5 people, so in that sense – this will be a major, major improvement.

  • Shane Parkins

    I agree with James, people took the time to learn Twitter and this seems like a big change would undermine the social media arena. I’m also curious to see how this will impact customer services, I don’t have an Android device to see how it looks in BETA.

  • Jennifer

    For new Twitter users the introduction to hashtags and @ responses can be a little daunting. I can see why Twitter would consider doing away with the @.

  • My chatmeter

    Wow, this is an interesting move by Twitter! If they do decide to remove the “@”, how would people be able to mention businesses in their tweets? It could be a problem because then potential customers wouldn’t be able to easily find a business’ Twitter unless they actively search for it.

  • Sunday

    Its great to know the upcoming changes in Twitter. Obviously what we should be concerned about a more ‘streamlined’ approach. Lets wait and see how this eventually pans out.

  • Allen Taylor

    Twitter just won’t be the same without @-replies.

  • ovidiugabriel

    I think @-replies and #-tags are representative for twitter. A twitter without @-reply is like a facebook without “like” button.

    • Rick Miles

      I think you’re spot on. It’s becoming more and more like Facebook which is good for their revenue and bad for users like me who enjoy the limitations and confinements of Twitter. This has been coming for some time, as I know several people who don’t ‘get’ Twitter. I have little doubt this is because it takes you a day or two to get comfortable with how it all works. @s are a big part of that, I guess.