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Twitter is Testing a ‘Hide Tweet’ Option

Keeping conversations civil, active and engaging on social media could be challenging. As Social Mediums, we discuss at length how to keep conversations healthy and how to deal with trolls. Until now Twitter provided three options to this matter: block, mute, or report, but none of them completely addressed the issue. The first two only affect the experience of the blocker, and ‘report’ only works for the content that violates Twitter policies. But all this is about to change as Twitter is working on a new feature that will let users the ability to hide replies to their tweets, giving them more ways to control what is seen in their feeds. 

– The Social Mediums. 

Twitter’s Testing a New Option Which Would Enable Users to Hide Selected Tweet Replies

This could spark a new wave of controversy. According to social media code hacker Jane Manchun Wong, Twitter is working on a new feature which would enable users to hide any reply of their choosingon their tweets.

Tweet moderation example

As you can see here, a new ‘Hide Tweet’ option has been added to the reply tweet drop-down list. When selected, the chosen reply is hidden not just from your timeline, but from anyone else also, though all users will still be able to choose the ‘View Hidden Tweets’ option (last frame above) on any tweet to see what the poster has chosen to hide.

That’s important, as it would mean that politicians, for example, could hide dissenting opinions from their reply chains, but users would still be able to see what they’d chosen to hide, ensuring there’s still a level of transparency and accountability.

Of course, Facebook already has a similar ‘Hide comment’ option for Pages – on Facebook, when Page admin opts to hide a comment, it’s removed from public view, and only friends of the original commenter are still able to see it. Twitter’s variation – if it were to go ahead – would enable more transparency, in that anyone would still be able to view the hidden replies, but it would rely on users actually bothering to tap that option, which could have positive and negative consequences.

On Facebook, the ability to hide replies can be good for weeding out link spammers and junk comments, in order to boost genuine engagement on your updates. It can also be used to remove criticism and negative comments, though the impact seems fairly limited. Twitter, a more open platform, may not be as welcoming of the same. It depends on the rates at which users do press that ‘View Hidden Tweets’ option, but it could be seen as a method to sanitize criticism, and to reduce public brand-shaming.

The impact of that will vary – Twitter has become a key platform for social customer service, at least in part because of the public nature of tweets, and the capacity for customers to call businesses out in front of everyone. If businesses could mute those concerns, would that have a negative impact on overall discussion? if, say, Donald Trump’s social media team was able to remove all the negative comments from his tweet replies, would that be a good thing for broader debate?

These are the factors Twitter is obviously weighing up, but it does make some sense, in regards to keeping conversations civil, active and engaging.

Whether that outweighs the potential negatives is difficult to say.

Twitter has confirmed that this option is development and will be rolled out for broader public testing within the next few months

Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter

Source: Social Media Today

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