The subtweet: Social media's version of telling someone that the empty seat next to you is taken. Despite being associated with Twitter, the practice is on every social platform. Users throw shade at another person without naming or tagging them, but making it obvious who they are talking about.
Researchers Autumn Edwards and Christina Harris dug into the subtweet in a study that will be published in Computers in Human Behavior. Subtweeting is omnipresent online, but it may not be having the intended effect.
The study looked at 349 undergraduate students, who were each presented with four tweets. One nice tweet directed at another individual, one mean that was directed at a specific individual, one mean subtweet, and one nice subtweet. Students then answered a series of questions about those tweets.
Positive subtweets were viewed as less socially competent, resulting in "less favorable interpersonal impressions of their sources." While a more positive impression was left by the positive tweets in general, the tweet where the person being complimented is named left the best impression on the students in the study.