Skip to main content

Twitter test lets you reword potentially offensive replies

Twitter is testing a new feature that gives you the chance to reword a potentially offensive reply before you post it.

The move comes as part of ongoing efforts by the social media company to rid its platform of abuse and bullying.

Currently an experiment for select iPhone users, a short message will appear if Twitter’s machine-learning smarts deem your intended reply to be potentially offensive. In other words, if your response is peppered with expletives or contains the kind of language often associated with harassment, Twitter will ask you if you want to reconsider expressing it in more, shall we say, diplomatic terms.

“When things get heated, you may say things you don’t mean,” the company said in a tweet announcing the anti-abuse test. “To let you rethink a reply, we’re running a limited experiment on iOS with a prompt that gives you the option to revise your reply before it’s published if it uses language that could be harmful.”

It should be emphasized that the feature is currently in a test phase and so may never become a permanent part of Twitter. But if the company’s data shows it to have a positive effect, we can expect it to be rolled out more widely in the near future.

Twitter isn’t the first social media app to use such a system. Instagram, for example, launched a similar tool last year that also uses machine learning to detect offensive language in comments before they’re posted. If Instagram’s software detects any potentially offensive words, it’ll ask the poster if they want to think again before hitting the send button. More recently, it expanded the tool to captions for feed posts.

Twitter says it prohibits abuse, harassment, and other “hateful conduct” on its platform, but it can only act against a user once the content has been posted. This has led to widespread criticism over the years that it’s failing to effectively address the issue, prompting some to quit the platform. The company, however, insists it’s working constantly to clean up the service with a steady flow of new features and support systems.

Those who experience abuse on Twitter can report the offender to the company. Blocking users or making use of an array of muting options is also possible. If the abuse is particularly alarming, such as threats of violence, Twitter recommends you also contact law enforcement. More information on how to deal with abuse can be found on Twitter’s website.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
WhatsApp finally lets you edit sent messages. Here’s how to do it
WhatsApp logo on a phone.

WhatsApp has announced a much-requested edit feature that lets you alter a message within 15 minutes of sending it.

“From correcting a simple misspelling to adding extra context to a message, we’re excited to bring you more control over your chats,” Meta-owned WhatsApp said in a blog post introducing the handy feature.

Read more
Elon Musk says he’s appointed a new Twitter CEO
A digital image of Elon Musk in front of a stylized background with the Twitter logo repeating.

Twitter owner Elon Musk has found someone to replace him as the company’s CEO, but he hasn't revealed who it is.

Musk tweeted on Thursday that the new CEO will step into the role at some point over the next six weeks.

Read more
Twitter ditches legacy check marks, and it’s already confusing
A stylized composite of the Twitter logo.

Twitter has started removing the blue check marks from accounts that have not signed up to its Blue subscription service.

Before Elon Musk acquired Twitter last October in a deal worth $44 billion, verification check marks were given to high-profile accounts belonging to celebrities, politicians, sports stars, journalists, and businesses, among others.

Read more