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Twitter restores retweet functionality after effort to curb misinformation

It didn't work as well as hoped, Twitter says.

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Retweets are back.

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter said Wednesday it will restore traditional retweet functionality after a months-long experiment to limit the spread of misinformation on the platform ahead of the US election last month.

The company said in October it would prompt users to add a comment to a tweet if they tried to retweet. Users could still retweet if they didn't add their own remarks, a practice known a quote tweeting.

The goal was to encourage more thoughtful amplification, but "we don't believe that this happened, in practice," Twitter Support said in a tweet on Wednesday. Use of quote tweets increased, but often little substance was included, with 45% including a single-word affirmation, while 70% contained fewer than 25 characters, Twitter found.

"We'll continue to focus on encouraging more thoughtful amplification," Twitter said.

The suspension of retweets came as social networks ramped up their efforts to combat misinformation weeks before the Nov. 3 election. More people were relying on social networks to get information about voting and the US election amid the coronavirus pandemic, even as those sites were filled with misinformation.

Twitter adds labels to certain tweets if they contain misleading information about the coronavirus, voting and other topics. In October, Twitter users trying to retweet a misleading tweet that had been labeled began seeing a prompt that said the tweet is "disputed" and that included a "Find out more" button directing them to credible information.