Twitter is trying to win back its reputation as a platform for healthy conversations by testing a feature in Canada that lets you hide replies and now it’s coming to the U.S. and Japan.
The goal is part of an effort to stop the spread of hate and vitriol online.
This new feature allows the person who tweeted the original comment to decide which replies stay and which are hidden from other users.
Twitter first announced the feature in February and started testing it in early July. “We saw that people were more likely to reconsider their interactions when their tweet was hidden,” the company wrote in a new blog post today.
While the company is walking the line between free speech and civil discussions, the feature could still prove controversial. Even though people can theoretically see hidden replies, it allows them to tailor online debates, hiding opposing viewpoints or corrections to misinformation.
But Twitter is willing to risk that in order to win back its reputation as a place where healthy conversations and activism like the Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo can thrive, without conspiracy theories and harassment. In an announcement about the feature’s Canada launch, Twitter said:
Everyday, people start important conversations on Twitter, from #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, to discussions around #NBAFinals or their favorite television shows. These conversations bring people together to debate, learn, and laugh. That said we know that distracting, irrelevant, and offensive replies can derail the discussions that people want to have.
Ultimately, the success of ‘hide replies’ will depend on how people use it, but it could mean friendlier — and more filtered — conversations.
— The Verge (@verge) September 20, 2019