Jordan Brock

Man Who Built The Retweet - We Handed A Loaded Weapon To 4-Year-Olds

Man Who Built The Retweet: “We Handed A Loaded Weapon To 4-Year-Olds”

Developer Chris Wetherell built Twitter’s retweet button. And he regrets what he did to this day.

“We might have just handed a 4-year-old a loaded weapon,” Wetherell recalled thinking as he watched the first Twitter mob use the tool he created. “That’s what I think we actually did.”

Good article on the unintended consequences of technological decisions. Developed at a time when Twitter was still viewed as a good place to be, the true impact of the Retweet button wasn’t able to be predicted.

“Only two or three times did someone ask a broader and more interesting social question, which was, ‘What is getting shared?’” Wetherell said. “That almost never came up.”

Nowadays, hopefully at least, the broader ramifications of a technical or user-interface decision should be considered. Of course, we still end up with email companies thinking that tracking where people open emails is a good thing.