Twitter has announced it will roll out a new feature that lets users limit who can interact with individual tweets. It has four options that you will be able to set as you compose a tweet as you decide how far and wide you’d like the conversation to go (via The Verge).
The company’s director of product management Suzanne Xie said the four options will be global, group, panel and statement:
- Global = Anyone can reply
- Group = People you follow and mention can reply
- Panel = People you mention in the tweet can reply
- Statement = No one can reply
All your tweets will still be visible to anyone who follows you but the company hopes the feature, which is currently part of the app’s beta build, will help stem online abuse on its platform. Xie reportedly said that the feature will be tested in the first quarter of this year, with a plan to launch it globally afterwards.
Thus far, Twitter users have been pretty open to abuse thanks to the open nature of the platform – the only way to stop that currently is to make your account private, which still goes a little against the point of the service.
Xie was asked if the ‘statement’ option would allow people to tweet and not be called out for misinformation. She pointed to the ability to quote tweet something to rebut or start a conversation, which in a way will not stop people from interacting with tweets no matter the setting. But it might help stem the flow of reply notifications.
It shows the evolution of Twitter and brings into question what it’s for – perhaps making us face the fact that it isn’t as simple as it looks and the platform is different things to different people. At its heart it is a blogging site, and people sometimes want to record their thoughts on things without being berated and harassed.
This might be hard to understand for people who use Twitter for conversation, or indeed to purposefully rile other users. But the company is usually slow to change things, so this is a good sign that it is finally learning to evolve to better protect users from abuse.