The company started experimenting with new ways to show how many people engaged with a tweet late last year, according to Twitter spokesperson Dan Jackson. “We found that people viewing Tweets off-platform were more likely to engage with them when we focused on providing conversational context,” Jackson said. In other words, if a tweet shows up on a news story read by someone who isn’t a Twitter user, seeing that it’s been retweeted thousands of times might not make much sense. But Twitter believes that knowing how many people are sharing andcommenting—that is, “talking about” the tweet—is a clearer indicator of popularity for those who aren’t familiar with how Twitter works.
By being less specific about the how much tweets embedded around the internet are shared, Twitter is in a way downgrading the importance of retweets as an overall indicator of a popularity. It’s also a move that could help counteract the social network’s massive bot infestation; bots are automated accounts that use software to act on their own to tweet, follow, and retweet others. (There are also bots that automatically reply to tweets, but they are less common.)
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