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In a nutshell: Twitter is introducing a new feature that will allow people to decide who, if anyone, can reply to their tweets. The platform already allows users to hide replies to tweets, but the new tool adds more control over what they see and should help address the long-running troll problem.
Suzanne Xie, Twitter's director of product management, revealed the new reply options at CES. They will be tested in the first quarter of this year before being launched later in 2020, and consist of four settings that users can select:
- Global - Anyone can respond.
- Group - Allows replies from a user's follows, or anyone mentioned in the tweet.
- Panel - Allow replies from people mentioned.
- Statement - No replies are allowed.
"We want to help people feel safe participating in the conversation on Twitter," the company said.
Being able to prevent any replies at all to a tweet is certainly interesting, and you can expect plenty of people to use the option. When asked about the possibility of limiting replies leading to misinformation going unchallenged, Xie said the company is exploring the option of allowing quote retweets.
For many years now, Twitter has promised to do more to deal with the harassment and bullying that is rife on the platform. In July, it started removing tweets that "include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion."
In December 2018, an Amnesty International report that examined the abuse of women on the site led to a short-seller labeling it "the Harvey Weinstein of social media."
Xie also announced new conversational features were coming to Twitter in the coming months, including threading, with the aim of putting an entire conversation "on one screen." The company is also upgrading its topics and lists discovery features.