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Twitter Considers Losing ‘#’ Hashtags And ‘@’ Replies

After being listed on the NYSE in late 2013, Twitter is now thinking about losing ‘#’ hashtags and ‘@’ replies in a bid to “move scaffolding into the background”.

 

It’s one of the world’s most popular social networks. Twitter has exploded in the past few years, thanks to an army of users taking every opportunity to share their sentiments with others around the world through the use of ‘#’ hashtags – and a probably an equally large group of tweeters who are driven to distraction by campaigns to get specific hashtags trending. So it’s particularly interesting that the social media giant could be getting rid of some of its fundamental features.

Reports suggest that Twitter is currently testing a new version of its app in which ‘#’ hashtags and ‘@’ replies have been phased out. According to Buzzfeed, an Android alpha test group is currently looking at a version in which responses are connected to the original tweet only by the “conversation” line, instead of including the direct reply.

 

Twitter is almost always testing one new development or another, so this is not conclusive proof that the social network is about to get rid of one if its more recognisable features. But at the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference in Colorado last week, the company’s head of news Vivian Schiller said the company is “working on moving the scaffolding of Twitter into the background”.

It appears from the reply to Buzzfeed’s request for comment that Twitter intends to emphasise better interaction in order to encourage less active users to get more involved in the Twittersphere. Representatives of the social network told the source it is continuing a trend that began last year, when it revamped its timeline and began displaying in-line social actions in October.

 

Given that Twitter has shareholders to appease since it floated on the New York Stock Exchange, it makes sense that it is working on ways to increase its service offering to its millions of inactive users at the same time as making it more attractive to the uninitiated. But for existing active users who were used to clicking on a “view conversation” icon instead of the “conversation” line, getting rid of fundamentals like ‘@’ replies and hashtags may take more adjustment.

There will also be questions to answer about integration, since frequent tweeters are usually more tech-savvy than less confident users. For example, it’s unclear whether if a user features their Twitter feed on their blog, it would still be clear to blog readers whether each tweet was a reply to another or not. Either way, if Twitter is looking for such a significant change it will have to convince millions of fans.


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