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Tech Talk: Man who invented Twitter’s retweet feature says its like a loaded weapon

The man who came up with Twitter’s retweet button has likened it to “handing a four-year-old a loaded weapon”.


According to the BBC, during a recent interview developer Chris Wetherell said no-one at Twitter had anticipated how it would alter the way people used the platform.

The retweet button was built in 2009 by a team of developers led by Mr Wetherell, and quickly became an integral part of Twitter.

He said he thought the retweet button “would elevate voices from under-represented communities”.Previously people had to manually retweet each other by copying text and typing RT and the name of the tweeter but once the process was automated, retweeting meant popular posts quickly went viral.

While some went viral for good reasons, such as providing information about natural disasters, many others were not so good.

Twitter has been criticised for allowing the spread of bullying, hate speech and fake news. Twitter remains under pressure to tweak the platform to make it a less toxic environment.

Founder Jack Dorsey has previously spoken about the need to demote likes and follows. At the TED (technology, entertainment and design) conference in Vancouver earlier this year, the founder said the firm was considering demoting likes and follows, adding that in hindsight he would not have designed the platform to highlight these.

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