Twitter’s strategy to offer users more control over replies features dangers


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Twitter executives speak at a press instruction at CES on Wednesday.

James Martin/CNET

This story belongs to CES 2020, our total protection of the display room flooring and the most popular brand-new tech gizmos around.

Twitter executives stated Wednesday the social media strategies to experiment this year with a brand-new function that would offer users more control over who can respond to a tweet, a relocation that might assist fight online abuse on the website. But as Twitter attempts to alter how we speak online, the brand-new function might likewise feature a disadvantage: more filter bubbles. 

During CES, the world’s biggest consumer-electronics trade convention, which began today in Las Vegas, Twitter offered an early take a look at a brand-new replies tool it’s set to evaluate throughout the very first quarter. Here’s how it works: When you make up a tweet, you’ll have the ability to pick who can respond. There are 4 alternatives: anybody, individuals you follow or discuss, individuals you discuss or simply you.

Limiting responds might feature favorable impacts. The tool might permit users to avoid online bullies from responding to their tweets, an issue Twitter’s been punishing for many years. It might likewise make discussions simpler to follow due to the fact that you might restrict replies to a group of individuals. Last year, we saw how complicated Twitter discussions can be to follow, when Recode managing editor and reporter Kara Swisher talked to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on the website, an experience that was referred to as a “chaotic hellpit.”

Dorsey has likewise acknowledged the website adds to producing “filter bubbles,” in which individuals’s political perspectives or predispositions are strengthened. The problem might appear if the business winds up introducing the brand-new limitations on replies due to the fact that you’d choose who might react. That implies you may miss out on a reply that recognizes errors or false information. 

Standing in a space filled with books and the Twitter logo design, Twitter item chief Kayvon Beykpour stated those are problems the business is thinking about throughout the experiment. He recognized methods around restricting replies, such as users estimating a tweet if they wished to weigh in on a remark.

“There are, I think, subtleties to how we implement this that I think are really important,” Beykpour stated.


Twitter prepares to try out a function that’ll let you pick who can respond to your tweet.


An continuous focus

In lots of methods, the brand-new tool is an extension of the work the business has actually currently been doing around discussions on the website. 

In November, Twitter stated it would let users around the world conceal replies to their tweets. Before Twitter presented the function internationally, the business evaluated it in Canada, Japan and the United States. 

The excellent news is Twitter discovered users have actually primarily concealed replies that are “irrelevant, abusive or unintelligible.”


Twitter’s icon for replies.

James Martin/CNET

Suzanne Xie, Twitter’s director of item management, stated that throughout the experiment users will need to establish who can respond to their tweet after they make up the tweet. Asked if users will have the ability to alter these settings after the tweet is published, Xie stated the business is checking out the possibility.

“We do want to be thoughtful about what the impact will be so that you can’t actually change the conversation afterwards,” Xie stated.

Online harassment continues to be an issue for Twitter. The social networks website can be a “toxic place,” particularly for female reporters and political leaders, according to a 2018 research study by Amnesty International and Element AI.

Twitter has actually been concentrating on making the website more favorable, however it’s uncertain precisely how well those efforts are working. The problem continues to be among the business’s leading concerns as we move into 2020.

“If people are fearful of being abused or harassed on the platform, it’s not a particularly pleasant place to participate, and so health for us is important,” Beykpour stated.