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Twitter to Allow Users to Control Who Can Reply to Their Tweets

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Twitter is planning to give its users more control in who can reply to their tweets, Twitter’s Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie has revealed.

The Verge reports that during CES 2020 (Consumer Electronics Show) on January 8th, Xie revealed new settings would be implemented for adjusting “conversation participants.”

“Global” will allow anyone to reply to a user’s Tweets, while “Group” allows only those who follow you and mention to reply. “Panel” are just for those mentioned in the tweet, and “Statement” prevents anyone from replying. Research and experiments into the new system will occur in Q1, with a full global launch later in 2020.

Twitter have allowed users to set their accounts to “protected” (allowing only followers to see their tweets), and began to allow users to hide replies to user’s Tweets in November 2019 (though others can still reveal the message for themselves if they wish). While it has been used to hide abusive comments, critics state it is a way for users who are being abusive themselves to hide those who criticize them, or shut down discussions with conflicting view-points.

It seems that Twitter may still be preventing all of the above, intentionally or otherwise. Xie stated “Getting ratio’d, getting dunked on, the dynamics that happen that we think aren’t as healthy are definitely part of … our thinking about this.” “Ratio’d” refers to when someone makes a controversial statement on Twitter, and the number of replies (usually debunking what the user stated, or denouncing them) far surpass the retweets or likes.

When asked if limiting replies could cause misinformation to spread (as rebuttals could be prevented), Xie reportedly stated users could quote tweet as a possible resolution. However, this would seemingly result in discussions being segregated between followers of different people. Nonetheless, Xie stated it would be “something we’re going to be watching really closely as we experiment.”

Twitter has tried desperately over the years to curb abusive accounts, and prevent users from being “dunked on”- no matter the reason. These have included limiting an abusive tweet’s visibility, and even changing the default “egg avatar” due to its association with harassment.

The former- better known as shadow banning- even resulted in Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey having to testify to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. This was due to allegations of censorship, especially aimed at those with republican beliefs. Twitter’s terms of service (as of January 2020) effectively wrote shadow banning into their terms [1, 2, 3].

With the upcoming US Elections, some are concerned these new features could be abused to prevent lies from being debunked, and information important to voters being shared. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

In earlier news, Twitter is set to implement stricter rules against NSFW content in 2020.

Image: Twitter via (The Verge), Mallorie Jessica Udischas (via OneyNG)

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Ryan Pearson

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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.