Character Study: Twitter Is Testing “Retweet With Comment”

The new feature might allow users to embed tweets from others into their own.

Character Study: Twitter Is Testing “Retweet With Comment”
[Image: Flickr user Michelle Tribe]

Twitter looks like it is testing a new feature that will allow you to cram more text into a retweet.

Here’s what happened: Twitter head of communications Carolyn Penner sent out this tweet yesterday linking to another tweet from @FortuneMagazine, with some additional commentary. (“Another noteworthy commencement address.”) On the web it looks like this:

Standard stuff. But, as Mashable spotted, that same tweet displayed the entirety of the original Fortune tweet in a Twitter card on iPhone:

That’s obviously different from pressing the retweet button or even using a manual retweet, which requires you to add the letters “RT” in the front of an @-handle and eat up valuable character space. The company declined to comment to Mashable, and the usual caveats apply. Twitter experiments with new features all the time.

If this new retweet style bears out, though, it would be in line with some other experiments we’ve seen from Twitter to subtly circumvent what some critics have deemed its archaic 140-character limit. The company has experimented with phasing out traditional hashtags and @ replies on mobile previously, which would let users share more with less text. Allowing users to “retweet with comment” seems like a natural–and thoughtful–way to move the needle forward and further move Twitter’s scaffolding into the background.

And if Twitter is not yet ready to innovate, the company could just wait for users to do it for them.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.



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