Twitter, still struggling with a reputation for frequent abusive responses to posts, is testing a way to let users specify who gets to reply to their tweets.
Currently any user can reply to any public post on Twitter and those replies are visible below the original posting. While this allows for open conversations, the replies frequently devolve into nonsense or insults.
However, a new setting, which is not universality available yet, could see the platform shifting towards public conversations that only certain users are allowed reply.
After composing a tweet and tagging someone in it, a new option in the permission settings lets you select who gets to reply: everyone, people you follow or only people you mention, as demonstratedby Twitter.
All tweets will continue to be publicly viewable, however, and no date for a global rollout was announced.
The feature was formally acknowledged by Twitter in a post that immediately got thousands of replies, including by users demanding other changes, such as an edit function.
While the function may well be welcomed by those who have experienced abusive replies, it’s unclear what it means for tweets containing misinformation.
Making it impossible to reply to misleading tweets – another problem on Twitter – could make it more difficult to alert other users to a tweet containing false information.
The no-replies option also does not appear to prevent other users from sharing the tweet with a comment, a process known on Twitter as quoting, which would be a roundabout way to reply to a tweet.
Abuse on Twitter has become a theme of recurring complaints against the company.
“Reply guys” has become a term for users who incessantly reply to other people’s posts in a bothersome or obsessive manner. Meanwhile “snitch-tagging” is the term for when someone points out to another user when someone else has tweeted something negative about them.
The trial comes after Twitter recently began to roll out a feature letting users hide certain replies. – dpa