independent– Twitter has announced that it will keep the changes it made to its retweet function during the US presidential election after it saw that it slowed the spread of misinformation – but only because fewer people were tweeting overall.

“We encouraged people to add their own commentary when amplifying content by prompting Quote Tweets instead of Retweets” wrote the company’s Kayvon Beykpour and Vijaya Gadde in a blog post.

“This change introduced some friction, and gave people an extra moment to consider why and what they were adding to the conversation.”

Despite a controversial start, Twitter says that it found a 23 per cent decrease in retweets and a 26 per cent increase in quote tweets, but an decrease of 20 per cent in both quote- and retweets altogether.

The company says that the change hampered misinformation spreading on its platform by the sheer fact that fewer people were sharing content on Twitter.

“We are taking more time to study and fully understand the impact of this change and are leaving it in-place for now”, Beykpour and Gadde said.

Twitter also said that its pre-bunks, which the company implimented in order to pre-emptively fact-check information, will continue to be used.

The prompts were seen 389 million times in people’s home feeds in Twitter’s search function, and resulted in:

  • Approximately 300,000 Tweets being labeled under our the company’s Civic Integrity Policy for content that was disputed and potentially misleading. These represent 0.2% of all US election-related Tweets sent during this time period.
  • 456 of those Tweets were also covered by a warning message and had engagement features limited (Tweets could be Quote Tweeted but not Retweeted, replied to or liked).
  • Approximately 74% of the people who viewed those Tweets saw them after Twitter applied a label or warning message.
  • Twitter saw an estimated 29% decrease in Quote Tweets of these labeled Tweets due in part to a prompt that warned people prior to sharing.

Twitter also said that it has ended showing content that was “liked by” and “followed by” other people that users were not following.

The company said that it “hoped that this would help reduce the potential for misleading information to spread on our service” but did not see a significant difference.

Finally Twitter will be changing the “For You” trends box, reducing the amount of context that is required before a trend can appear, in order to show people more content.

“Moving forward, we’ll continue to prioritize reviewing and adding context to as many Trends as possible, but won’t make this a requirement before a Trend can appear”, Twitter said.

“Our goal is to help people see what’s happening, while ensuring that potentially misleading trends are presented with context.”