Guest Post: Twitter Invites Community Backlash with @Replies Change


[Mayank Dhingra is co-founder of Kwippy. His thoughts on Marketing and Social Media are widely read at]

Oops, Twitter did it again. After logging on Twitter after a day’s break I was  greeted by two inconspicuous messages atop my Twitter stream about their planned maintenance and a small settings change to the @replies feature. Though I could not care less about the planned maintenance break the changes to @replies left me curious. Here’s an excerpt from Twitter’s blog post about the changes:

We’ve updated the Notices section of Settings to better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies. Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable.

How exactly does hiding @replies to unknown people “better reflect user behaviour”?

Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option. Confused? That’s understandable and exactly why we made the update.

Is someone trying to be funny here? Needless to say the unasked for changes are not going down well with Twitter users and there aren’t keeping mum about it.

The hashtags #fixreplies and #twitterfail started appearing immediately all across Twitter. It was only a matter of time before #fixreplies became a trending topic, becoming more visible and wide spread amongst the Twitter users.

So how will Twitter react to all this, is what everyone’s thinking. Will it stick to it’s decision that it knows what’s best for their users or relent to the storm that’s brewing and give up to it?

Twitter’s Response (so far):

1) Original blog post updated: In less than three hours since I saw that "we know it better than you all" post the content has updated with removal of that apparently funny line "Confused? That’s understandable and exactly why we made the update." and addition of the following text to reassure it’s users that things aren’t all that bad, you can still discover new people by either incidentally or by altering how you use @replies.

The Importance of Discovery Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you’ll still see mentions or references linking to people you don’t follow. For example, you’ll continue to see, "Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff" even if you don’t follow @biz. We’ll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

2) Tweet from EV: "Reading people’s thoughts on the @replies issue. We’re considering alternatives. Thanks for your feedback."

From what I’ve seen Twitter hasn’t really been one of the most responsive sites when it comes to hearing the voice of it’s community and doing the needful for them but given the scale it has reached it better start changing things on that front too to avoid a large scale user backlash.

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