Twitter recently announced that they are going to remove the @and # symbols from their user interface.
The announcement was made in Denver during an event organized by the Newspaper Association of America. Twitter's head of news, Vivian Schiller reported that the use of at-replies and hashtags may be confusing and might scare away potential new users of the social network. She also implied that Twitter's newer versions may not support these symbols anymore.
However, she later tweeted that the @ and # symbols are not be removed entirely from the site, rather, the changes pushing these symbols to the background will be done in a gradual manner. Mercury News reported that Buzzfeed had access to a screenshot showing a Twitter conversation in an Android alpha test and the conversation has no at-replies and hashtags. Experts predict that the at-replies will be replaced by the proper names of a user's contacts, just like what Facebook users can do when mentioning or tagging friends.
The move is expected to help Twitter attract new users to their site. The social network's growth has stopped increasing and its shares are decreasing in value. To date, Twitter has 54 million users in the US and 241 million users across the globe, but their user share increased by just four percent in 2013. Also, out of all registered Twitter accounts, only 651 million are active. This may mean that people try Twitter, find it too confusing, and stop opening their accounts.
"We will continue to make the product easier for new users to use," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said about the change regarding hashtags and other symbols, in an interview with the Merc's Brandon Bailey in February.
"It's not just 'get it' in the first weeks or months on Twitter," Costolo said in another interview with the Business Insider. "It's 'get it' on the first day on Twitter ... so that's a focus."