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Twitter’s controversial “Hide Replies feature, aimed at civilizing conversations on its platform, is launching today in the U.S. and Japan after earlier tests in Canada. The addition is one of the more radical changes to Twitter to date. It puts people back in control of a conversation they’ve started by giving them the ability to hide those contributions they think are unworthy.
These replies, which may range from the irrelevant to the outright offensive, aren’t actually deleted from Twitter. They’re just put behind an extra click.
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That means people who come into a conversation to cause drama, make inappropriate remarks, or bully and abuse others won’t have their voices heard by the majority of the conversation’s participants. Only those who choose to view the hidden replies will see those posts.
Other social media platforms don’t give so much power to commenters to disrupt conversations. On Facebook and Instagram, for example, you can delete any replies to your own posts.
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Unfortunately, Twitter’s open nature also led to bullying and abuse. Before today, the only options Twitter offered were to mute, block and report users. Blocking and muting, however, only impact your own Twitter experience. You may no longer see posts from those users, but others still could. Reporting a tweet is also a complicated process that takes time. It’s not an immediate solution for a conversation rapidly spinning out of control.
While “Hide Replies” will help to address these problems, it ships with challenges of its own, too. It could be used as a way to silence dissenting opinions, including those expressed thoughtfully, or even fact-checked clarifications.
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Twitter believes the feature will ultimately encourage people to better behave when posting to its platform.
“We already see people trying to keep their conversations healthy by using block, mute, and report, but these tools don’t always address the issue. Block...
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