May 26, 2018

Will Twitter Ditch #, @ Symbols?

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Will Twitter Ditch #, @ Symbols?

In an attempt to help newer users feel more comfortable with the platform, Twitter may discontinue the use of the @ symbol to tag users, and possibly the # symbol to create its iconic hashtags. Twitter recently began experimenting with a new version of its app that eliminates the @ symbol from replies.

This comes amid some less-than-impressive usage numbers at Twitter. Business Insider calls the service "dead in the water," noting that Twitter added only 1 million users in the United States last quarter. The more concerning number though, according to the publication, is that up to 1 billion people have tried Twitter and then stopped using it.

Vivian Schiller, Twitter's head of news, recently called use of the @ symbol in Twitter "arcane." In a recent earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo suggested the simplification may be part of an attempt to push "the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background."

Some users see the symbols as looking more like code than human communication. Other long-term Twitter users are tweeting their frustrations about the proposed change. This comes less than a year after Facebook added hashtags to their platform.

Sources: "Is Twitter Getting Rid of @-Replies and Hashtags?" Mashable (March 20, 2014) & "Twitter Is Trying To Figure Out Whether Killing The '@' Symbol Will Bring Back 1 Billion Disaffected Users," Business Insider (March 20, 2014)

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