This won’t go down well with Twitter lovers. Everyone’s favorite microblogging service is experimenting with a new version of its Android app that removes @ replies entirely, hinting at the possibility that it will phase out the communications feature it has become synonymous with.

BuzzFeed reports that Twitter’s Head Of News Vivian Schiller recently told an audience at a media event that hashtags and @ replies are “arcane,” and hinted that they would be reworked to provide a more ‘streamlined’ approach to the service to help new users understand the concept of Twitter.

Schiller has since played down her comments, but a screenshot from the alpha version of Twitter for Android suggests that @ replies may be for the chop in favor of Facebook-like mentions, although it is only an experiment at this point and there is no suggestion that regular @ mentions are affected.

twitter alpha Twitters latest experiment hints that it will remove @ replies from its service

The thinking behind the change is that Twitter ‘scaffolding’ puts new users off, and makes it hard to understand and use the service — it seems certain that loyal users will disagree, and would likely protest against such changes, even if they are merely cosmetic as this one could prove to be.

➤ Twitter Hints That At-Replies And Hashtags Are About To Be Streamlined [BuzzFeed]

Headline image via DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: This is what the future of Twitter looks like