Why Twitter is prompting people to share tweet links instead of screenshots

If you’ve attempted to screenshot a tweet in the mobile app only to be prompted to share a link to it instead—well, that’s part of a new limited test on iPhone.

Closeup of the Twitter app icon on an iPhone home screen
Don’t screenshot tweets or you’ll upset Twitter | Image: Brett Jordan/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? Twitter has confirmed running a limited test with a small set of iOS users, with a prompt appearing as soon as you screenshot a tweet to offer sharing a link to the tweet instead.
  • Why care? Because Twitter’s desire to persuade people to use its service more often may not correlate with how you want to use the service.
  • What to do? If you’re part of this test but dislike the new prompt, give some negative feedback and maybe Twitter won’t launch this feature.

Twitter really wants you to share tweets as links

App researcher Jane Manchun Wong’s Twitter says the test puts up a prompt when the user screenshots a tweet in the mobile app [App Store link], offering to share the tweet link instead. If you’re included in this test, you may see a different warning.

The prompt offers two options: Copy Link and Share Tweet.

Twitter has confirmed to The Verge that it’s currently running this test with a small number of iOS users who are using its beta app via TestFlight. The company wouldn’t say when—or if, for that matter, this new prompt might launch to all users.

Why Twitter doesn’t like screenshotted tweets

Sharing tweets natively as links is much better than sharing tweet screenshots. The primary reason is engagement. When you see a screenshotted link shared elsewhere like Snapchat messages, TikTok videos, WhatsApp group chats or Instagram stories and posts, you can’t simply touch the image to open the full tweet in your favorite Twitter app. Read: How to hide or remove birthday from your Twitter profile

This contributes to lower engagement on Twitter. That’s why instead of reposting screenshotted tweets on other platforms as images Twitter would prefer if you instead shared a direct link. And that’s why some people are seeing this new prompt.

This isn’t the only way Twitter is trying to grow users on its platform.

For instance, another test simply reminds people that they can share tweets with those who don’t have a Twitter account. The company is also contemplating the ability to take Twitter for a spin without having to create an account.