Twitter Users Frustrated By Disappearance Of “@-Replies”

Image courtesy of Tom Raftery

When Twitter was created, there was no built-in way to indicate that you were Tweeting to a particular account, so users came up with the “@username” method for tagging others in their Tweets. In the decade since, the @- reply has gone from obscure shorthand to commonplace usage by hundreds of millions of people. But as part of Twitter’s recently announced changes, the @-reply is vanishing — and some folks are not happy.

Mashable reports that many of the users who have gotten their hands on the update have expressed confusion and frustration over the way their Tweets now appear with respect to conversations.

To some users, this change isn’t just confusing, it also seems to be an indication that the networking site doesn’t care about their input.

Sam Sharma, a producer for Playstation, Tweeted that users helped to invent the @(username) reply to show their acknowledgement of others and to keep some conversations less visible.

Others tell Mashable that new response makes it more difficult to pick and choose who they speak with, a method some say they’ve used to filter out harassing messages.

“The risk for me is greater than it is for some other users,”Tressie McMillan Cottom, a professor, tells Mashable. “And, my experience of the platform relies, to a significant degree, on my ability to navigate these fault lines. Without the security of knowing to whom I am replying, I cannot safely tweet.”

Because the changes are rolling out selectively at first, we’ll likely hear more complaints — and probably acceptance of the new system – in coming weeks.

Twitter first announced in May that it would allow users to express more on the site by simplifying what counts toward the character restriction in the “coming months.”

“So for instance, @names in replies and media attachments — like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls — will no longer ‘use up’ valuable characters,” Todd Sherman, senior product manager for Twitter, said in a blog post in May.

The 140-character limit was first used by Twitter because that was the limit for a single mobile text message. Tweeting by text was popular back in the pre-smartphone era of 2006, when the social media company first launched.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey previously said the 140-character limit will live on because it’s “too iconic” to get rid of.

A simple Twitter change has already led to confusion and frustration [Mashable]

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