Twitter’s Spontaneous Mentions Insert You Into Other’s Conversations

2724175411_74293899db_bDoes anyone know when Twitter started spontaneously adding @mentions to tweets?

Some time over the past month I’ve noticed that Twitter has been adding my Twitter handle to conversations that reference a link to this blog. I’ve found no press coverage mentioning that Twitter has added this feature/bug, but I can report that I’ve seen the feature on an intermittent basis.

It happened earlier today, and last week I encountered it on several occasions. Most of the examples look like the following:

Do you see how there’s a tweet with a link, and then I am referenced in the tweet that responds to the tweet with the link?

That @mention is inserted by Twitter, not the user.

For some unknown reason, Twitter has decided that users who don’t know me or follow me obviously intended to include me in a conversation they’re having with someone else.

I am not at all bothered by this, but I am puzzled and would like to know more. And since I don’t know anything about it, I thought I would post an open question (with the goal of also helping other people who are as confused as I).

Does anyone know when Twitter added this feature?

What do you think of it?

image by tashmahal

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Rob Siders21 September, 2015

    In the case of one of your linked examples, it appears someone in the linked to a blog post of yours. Could it be Twitter is noticing the URL is associated with your Twitter account and then inserting the handle into the reply box? If so, then it’s not spontaneous.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      Okay, “spontaneous” isn’t quite the right word. I just couldn’t think of a better one.

  2. Tymber Dalton21 September, 2015

    I know when someone Tweets a link from my WordPress site, it inserts my Twitter handle as a “via” insert. I noticed in the first example you listed, when I looked they’d previously included a link to your site? Might be coming from there? Or the people in the convo just included you because they’d referenced your link?

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      @ Tymber

      I don’t know any of the people in these conversations. They don’t follow me, nor does it look like they added me so they could ask me a question.

      This @mentions look like spontaneous/algorithmic/automatic additions to a tweet, and not the work of users.

  3. Anthony21 September, 2015

    Could the OP have tweeted the link from your site then deleted your handle, then when it was replied to it somehow dug up the handle in the underlying tweet code?

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 September, 2015

      @ Anthony

      The example shown in the post includes a link shared from Zite/Flipboard. That app doesn’t have the option to automatically include my handle.

      And the first linked example shows a conversation where someone continued the conversation by tweeting a link to my site, inspiring Twitter to include me in the conversation.

      Furthermore, I’ve got a few responses on Twitter from people who had seen this exact feature but didn’t know what was going on.

      Twitter really is inserting mentions all on its own.


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