Twitter has now announced a new feature they’re working on to limit who can reply to your tweets. For now, Twitter mentions that the test will be available for a small percentage of users on Twitter for iOS, Android and their web client.
The way the feature works is, before you tweet something out, you’ll be given the choice to pick between three options. You can choose where to allow replies from everyone, only those you follow, or those you @ mention in the tweet.
As you can see, it’s a dystopian feature, to me anyway. Mainly because you’re controlling others’ ability to reply to maybe dumb a** sht. A few come to mind when I think about it cough* DONALD TRUMP cough.
If you choose to only allow people you mention to be able to reply, people will still be able to see your tweets. Users will also be able to like and retweet it, but they won’t be able reply unless you’re mentioned/following them, depending on what the Tweeter chose. Twitter will show you this prompt if the tweet is only available for reply for some:
And that’s the whole premise of this feature. I’m sure Twitter had some good intentions in mind, as I can see this feature being used to stop cyber bullying and harassment. But to me, the reason it doesn’t make any sense is the possibility for this feature to turn sour.
Imagine a certain politician, news outlet, celebrity, or essentially everybody, suddenly were to prescribe some form of miracle cure for the coronavirus on Twitter. By simply switching off the ability for others to reply, there are bound to be users who wholeheartedly trust, and follow whatever is said. Removing the ability for people to reply, to me, would in turn transform Twitter into a hub of disinformation.
Not to mention the utter absurdity of practical uses for this feature. Here’s what people who have access to the feature are doing right now:
reply if you want to be verified!
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) May 20, 2020
Reply if Twitter is a good app
— Dolan Dark (@DolanDark) May 20, 2020
This new 'feature' – that lets only those mentioned in a tweet reply – is pretty obviously going to be abused by people acting in bad faith.
Think of all the misinformation that gets thousands of retweets but is refuted in replies. Now, no longer possible. Well done, Twitter. pic.twitter.com/SWLXeJYj6G
— Jimmy (@JimmySecUK) May 20, 2020
And a bunch more nonsense circulating around. It’s a potential limitation to speech, and censoring which I’m wary of. It truly has the potential to turn into something morbid. But, luckily for now it’s just in a trial phase, so wide adoption is not yet there. But if the feature gets the green light, we can hope for a more controlled, censored platform. It’s quite literally going against the very principle Twitter is built upon.
And that’s why it’s a mistake.