the new twitter replies


Twitter somehow made Twitter worse, and everyone is dumping on it

Twitter just keeps getting worse, but good luck leaving.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Twitter has changed its system of @replies, also known as mentions or as the Timeline Product, again, and the consensus among users is that it’s a confusing disaster that makes spamming easier and conversations harder to follow. Usernames, which formerly counted against Twitter’s 140-character limit, no longer count. In theory, that’s nice because your replies can use the full 140 characters. In practice, it’s disastrous because figuring out who’s replying to who is a mess, and because a reply thread can now include up to 50 people. It’s insane.

In the worst-case scenario, you’re stuck on a thread with 49 other people, you’re getting constant notifications, and you’re forced to look at niche anime porn. It’s a dystopian nightmare.


Everyone knew it would be this bad when Twitter first announced the changes back in May 2016. The company had a year to think about it or address users’ concerns, but the update to replies seems to have gone through with no alterations.

What’s the point? Why do this? Some have theorized that Twitter is trying to obfuscate its persistent problems with harassment. Their logic goes that existing @reply system was fine, but by implying that it was broken, Twitter has created a scapegoat for its slow growth that doesn’t require it to acknowledge the mobs of anime-avatared neo-Nazis running wild on the platform.

Or, even more straightforward, that the new system is just so confusing that it makes the abuse harder to track and prove.

Meanwhile, very little has been done to actually address the harassment problem. In March, Twitter finally allowed people to block “egg” accounts, those with few followers and the default egg avatar, but that’s been the extent of it. White supremacists Richard Spencer and David Duke were banned from the site, but almost immediately allowed to return.

Much of the criticism of the new reply system accuses Twitter of ignoring the real factor that makes the site unusable.

Even though each new feature or change leads Twitter users to proclaim that Twitter is now garbage—and they’re correct every single time—you’ll notice that they’re voicing their complaints on Twitter. The most vocal critics of Twitter are those who either have to use it for work or have built up an audience too big to abandon, no matter how dumb and bad the experience becomes.

Twitter may not be attracting many new users, but the people who suffer the worst Twitter misery are never leaving.

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