Twitter Rolls Back Update After “Accidentally” Removing ‘@’ From Replies

Image courtesy of Tom Raftery

If you noticed something a little funny on Twitter recently, you aren’t alone: the company confirmed that it “accidentally” pushed an update that briefly killed off the @ symbol in front of usernames.

You probably wouldn’t have noticed anything — besides complaints from friends, perhaps — if you’re an Android user, as the error only affected iOS users, Twitter says. The glitch was due to an “experiment around replies” that Twitter is apparently working on.

That experiment may not prove too popular, as many users were not pleased by the brief death of the @ symbol, and had no problem letting Twitter know:

“Upside, we got helpful feedback,” Twitter said. “We’re listening!”

This isn’t even the first time Twitter has tried to pry the @ symbol away from users: the company tried to test @-less replies in October, to a similar chorus of confused and angry users.

Why are people so tied to the @ symbol? 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.