Bottom line: Users will soon be able to hide replies to their own threads on Twitter. Moderation tools that allow for removal of controversial posts from prime view could become easily abused for selective censorship, but are intended to improve conversation quality.
Observant Twitter users have spotted a new "Hide Tweet" feature within an Android app update. The function will allow the owner of a large thread to remove tweets from prominent public view.
Potential abuse of the feature to silence critics is high. However, looking at the string of replies to any tweet made by a well known figure clearly shows why a moderation option may be useful. Users will still be able to see that tweets have been hidden and will be given the option to click a link to view hidden replies.
Blocking and muting other users will still be options for those that do not wish to be contacted or would like to ignore tweets from certain people. Hiding tweets goes a step further and becomes a powerful censorship option since all users are affected.
Impersonation of verified users is also a problem that hiding tweets can help solve since Twitter is not always quick to ban or remove tweets from fake accounts. Moderator tools will help prevent followers of celebrities and politicians from falling victim to the numerous scams that pop up in replies from time to time.
A balance is being sought between how people are free to express themselves while giving thread creators options to keep their conversations friendly. According to Twitter, the new feature is all about conversation health and preventing an onslaught of toxicity from forming on its platform. How users will make use of the feature and whether people understand how to view hidden tweets will ultimately determine if hiding tweets is an abused feature for censorship of views.
The Hide Tweets feature will be rolled out to all users in the coming months following trials with small groups of users.