Is Twitter actually listening to its users?
The social media company announced Wednesday that it will begin to roll out a new feature where users can essentially pick and choose who can reply to their tweets, “giving people control over the conversations they start.” Right now the feature is only available to a small percentage of users globally.
Twitter was leading up to this in the last few months. In November, it gave users the option to hide replies, and in March it became the butt of the joke when it introduced “fleeting thoughts,” aka Twitter’s take on Instagram Stories — both masquerading as ways to contain the incessant harassment often experienced on the platform.
But Twitter’s latest move is different. And should have been implemented a long time ago.
You don’t even have to be a Twitter user to know the type of behavior that goes on there. Internet trolls regularly use Twitter’s own features, like Lists, to target and harass people with the fury of a literal swarm.
And if you’re a woman on Twitter, you are more than aware of the consistent stream of threats, unsolicited sexual innuendo, and abuse that takes place. Even celebrities have left the platform for these reasons, leaving behind millions of followers in pursuit of mental health.
In 2019, Twitter stopped sharing how many of its users were leaving each month because so many of its accounts were bots and spam.
— Sylvia (@SylviaObell) May 20, 2020
Wading through hundreds of tweets filled with insults and trolling just to find a select few from colleagues and friends can be exhausting.
And, sure, Twitter’s latest “conversation settings” will not stop all harassment. Users will still have the opportunity to retweet with comments and take screenshots.
But the ability to choose who can reply will make harassment less visible to those who are sick and tired of being targeted in their replies. This isn’t censorship in the slightest: It will just have to take place elsewhere, in someone else’s replies. Tweets and reactions may not live in the same place anymore, but that may be for the best — and doesn’t mean those who are interested can’t easily sniff it out. Conversations can now be more focused and with people whose opinions you actually care about.
And let’s be honest: The option to manage who can call you “cringe” and who can’t is all users have ever wanted!