Twitter is working on a tweet moderation feature that would let users hide replies to their tweets.
Jane M. Wong, an expert on reverse engineering apps, discovered the feature and shared some screenshots.
A senior product manager at Twitter confirmed the company is indeed working on this feature while also adding more context.
The feature is being designed to give users more control over the conversations around their tweets:
“We often hear from heavy Tweeters that they want to be able to protect their conversations…
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.”
Twitter already has features such as block, mute, and report. However, they don’t address issues the way the new moderation feature is intended to.
“Block and mute only change the experience of the blocker, and report only works for the content that violates our policies.
With this feature, the person who started a conversation could choose to hide replies to their tweets. The hidden replies would be viewable by others through a menu option.”
So, while tweets would be hidden, they would not completely disappear.
It sounds similar to a downvoted reply on Reddit, though arguably less democratic.
When the Reddit community collectively downvotes a reply to a thread it gets hidden, but it can still be viewed manually.
With this tweet moderation feature, the original poster has full control over hiding replies to their tweets.
Twitter’s product manager somewhat acknowledges this, while adding that users can always call out situations where they disagree with tweets being hidden.
“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. We think this can balance the product experience between the original Tweeter and the audience.”
This feature is already generating a fair amount of controversy, with Twitter users arguing for and against it.
On one hand, it could be useful for reducing the visibility of trolls and others tweeting abusive comments.
On the other hand, the feature could be easily misused by users who simply wish to hide comments from people with conflicting viewpoints.
Twitter plans to test the feature publicly in the coming months, so it will be interesting to see how people choose to make use of it.