Twitter has given a launch date for a feature that lets you hide replies to your tweets.
News that the company has been working on such a feature surfaced last month, and on Tuesday, the company confirmed it will roll it out in June. It will, however, be launched as an experiment, meaning it could be modified or even ditched, depending on how the Twitter community responds.
The hope is that the option to hide replies will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads and pave the way for more respectful and meaningful exchanges on the platform, which is often accused of giving trolls too much freedom.
But as pointed out by TechCrunch, which first reported the launch date, the feature could allow for posters of the original tweet to hide informative responses that disagree with their position in a debate, or even to remove from view fact-checked replies that aim to clarify content contained in the main tweet or in some of the responses in the thread.
To avoid such misuse, hidden replies will be clearly marked in the thread, with anyone reading the conversation able to tap on it to find out what it says.
“We think the transparency of the hidden replies would allow the community to notice and call out situations where people use the feature to hide content they disagree with,” Michelle Yasmeen Haq, Twitter senior product manager, said earlier this year.
“People who start interesting conversations on Twitter are really important to us, and we want to empower them to make the conversations they start as healthy as possible by giving them some control,” Haq said, adding, “We already see people trying [to] keep their conversations healthy by using block, mute, and report, but these tools don’t always address the issue. Block and mute only change the experience of the blocker, and report only works for the content that violates our policies.”
Speaking at a TED event this week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that Twitter in its current form “makes it super-easy to harass and abuse others,” but he also insisted that its increasing reliance on machine learning is helping to address the issue.
Twitter recently launched a new app called Twttr specifically for testing new design features, but the upcoming hide-replies feature is expected to land for all users on the main app. The company will be watching closely to see how the community responds to it and what effect it has on encouraging better behavior on the platform before deciding whether to make it a permanent feature.
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