Twitter is baking the popular custom of retweeting into the service as a native feature. Phase one of 'Project Retweet' is the release of a retweet API to developers.
This means the retweet function will be supported by third-party clients as well as on Twitter's own Web site. Retweeting means posting another user's interesting tweet to your followers with the letters RT and the original author's username. Currently, this means copying and pasting the tweet and is pretty cumbersome, the extra text often meaning retweeters are forced to edit the original tweet -- with mixed results.
Retweeting is one of the many conventions used on Twitter that began with users rather than the company. Like @replies, retweets are set to be built in to the official Twitter infrastructure after being popularised by users. Hovering over a tweet will show the option to reply or retweet. When you publish a retweet, the original tweeter's link appears separate from the tweet itself, saving you precious characters. The really nifty bit is that it also tells you who else has retweeted the post.
This Craver, for one, welcomes the change: having the initials RT meant retweeting confused the heck out of us for about a month. And while we're on the subject, 'via' means 'by way of', so the right way to retweet is to RT the original author and credit the person who brought it to your attention with a via -- not the other way around. Clear? Good.
The new function should show up in a matter of weeks. Interestingly, some users have today spotted what appears to be a bug on Twitter.com, with a clickable RT link showing up when you hover over a tweet in the home feed. Clicking the link automatically sticks the full post in the text input box, complete with 'RT @whoevertheoriginalauthorwas'.
Let us know if you're seeing this bug in the comments, and tell us how you feel about retweets in the comments: essential viral tool or lazy spamming? In the meantime, why not follow cnetuk -- unless you're a spambot, in which case, get a job.