In order to curb online bullying and harassment, Twitter will soon let you control who can reply to your tweets. Speaking at an event during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas, Suzanne Xie, the company’s director of product management, said the social network is bringing significant changes around conversation this year.
Xie said Twitter will give four options to you to limit replies at different levels:
- Global: All folks can reply
- Group: People you follow and mention
- Panel: People you specifically mention in a tweet
- Statement: No replies
This gives more granular control to you on replies to your tweet. Currently, Twitter only allows you to hide replies to certain tweets.
Most intriguing here is the ‘Statement’ level of protection to a tweet. I expect to see politicians, celebrities, and other public figures use that option. And as Australian comedian Lewis Spears noted in a tweet, it could also be used to air controversial opinions:
This is a great idea for private citizens that don’t want to be made famous by outrage mobs.
It will also be abused by public figures on all sides to hide disagreement/counter narrative https://t.co/8l9mQ5MwMO
— Lewis Spears (@LewSpears) January 9, 2020
Xie said to limit misinformation through tweets you can’t reply to, the company’s exploring the option of allowing quote retweets. However, malicious quoted retweets might have the same (or worse, as other people can see that too) effect as harmful replies. While replies are only visible when you expand a certain tweet, quoted tweets are visible to all followers of the person who is quoting. So, that might encourage more people to quote the original tweet and spew venom.
During the session, other Twitter executives said the social network will gain more conversational features, such as threaded replies (which are currently being tested in the company’s beta app, twttr). Along with that, the company plans to enhance lists and topics discovery.
et to see what Twitter will do to improve the ‘health of public conversations.’ The aforementioned control on who can reply to your tweet will likely have many people kicking up a fuss because they can’t engage in these conversations. It might also cause an increase in people reporting tweets they might not agree with, so that they’re taken down.