October 24, 2020

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Twitter Is Testing Prompts Which Would Recommend Users Hide Potentially Offensive Replies

2 min read

Twitter looks to be testing a new prompt which would ask users if they want to hide potentially offensive replies to their tweets in order to avoid arguments and negative interactions in the app.

Twitter hide replies

As you can see in this example, posted by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, a new pop-up would be added which alerts users to potentially offensive remarks, as detected by Twitter’s system. The pop-up essentially serves as a reminder that you can hide replies, rather than respond, which, in many cases, could be a better approach, as opposed to engaging in a negative discussion that can lead to a longer, more argumentative sequence.

It would essentially be a circuit-breaker mechanism, designed to stop arguments before they start. If Twitter’s system can get you to re-think retaliatory comments before you make them, maybe that simple step could be enough to halt any such debate, and improve the civility of subsequent Tweet engagement.

Adding minor elements of friction like this seems to be key to Twitter’s renewed approach to tackling toxic engagements. The platform also added new prompts which call for users to read articles before they retweet them back in June, while it’s also making ‘Quote Tweet’ the default option for retweets during the US election campaign in an effort to get people to think more carefully about why they’re amplifying certain messages. 

Twitter Quote Tweets

All of these measures are, as noted, relatively small, but they can be effective. For example, Twitter says that its ‘read before retweeting’ prompts have already lead to users opening articles 40% more often when they’re shown them, while Instagram has also seen ‘positive results‘ with its warnings on potentially offensive comments on posts.

This new test would utilize similar detection measure to Instagram, in detecting potentially offensive terms in replies, which could help to stop users from firing back, leading to more angst.

There’s no word on any potential roll out, but it could be a positive step. 

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