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Twitter today is beginning its test of a radical and controversial change to its service with the launch of a new “Hide Replies” feature. Effectively, this option gives users the ability to wrestle back control over a conversation they’ve started, by hiding any replies they feel aren’t worthy contributions — for example, replies that are irrelevant or outright offensive.
One of the problems with Twitter — and with many social networks, for that matter — is that an otherwise healthy conversation can easily be disrupted by a single individual or a small number of people who don’t contribute in a positive fashion. They come into a thread to start drama or they make inappropriate, rude or even hateful remarks.
Course - Users - Mute - Block - People
Of course, users can choose for themselves to either Mute or Block people like this, which limits their ability to affect their own personal experience on Twitter. But this doesn’t remove their comments from others’ view. The “Hide Replies” feature, however, will.
But it’s not the equivalent of a delete button. In other words, hidden replies are not removed from Twitter entirely, they are just placed behind an icon. If people want to see the hidden replies, they can press this icon to view them.
Twitter - Goal - Feature - Conversation - Platform
Twitter’s goal with the feature is to encourage more civil conversation its platform. It could work, as those who want their comments seen by a wide audience will have to find a way to express themselves in an appropriate fashion — without taking the conversation off course or resorting to insults or trolling. Otherwise, they know their replies could be hidden from the default view.
But this change is not without significant downsides.
Example - User - Replies - View - Filter
For example, a user could choose to hide replies that simply (and even politely!) disagreed with their view. This would then create a “filter bubble” where only people who...
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