Twitter now allows you to choose who can reply to your tweet and it could have huge ramifications


By Marissa Chin

Twitter now allows you to choose who can reply to your tweet and it could have huge ramifications

The blue bird app has done it again—just when you think Twitter has introduced enough features to battle its long fight with the trolls such as ‘hidden replies’ and ‘Fleets’, they’ve gone ahead and unveiled the literal personification of the “don’t @ me” lingo.

Just today, Twitter announced that users can now control who can reply to their tweets.

Here are the options they have for you:

1. You can choose the first which is basically the same thing we all have now—anyone and everyone can reply to your tweet if they see them.

2. You can limit replies to your tweet to just your followers so bye bye trolls and bots (well, assuming all your followers are actual humans).

3. The last option reserves replies only to the person you have tagged in your tweet—so if you’re trying to have a conversation with your best friend, you no longer have to worry about getting interrupted by incessant ‘reply guys’.

So if you don’t tag anyone in your tweet and you choose the final option, you’re basically blocking any replies, period.

From the get-go, it definitely seems like a total game-changer to the micro-blogging platform. After all, Twitter has always been a platform that prided itself with opening discussions with like-minded people and opposing sides; the exchange of ideas and hilarious repartees were synonymous to Twitter’s brand—with this new update, it definitely seemed like the essence of the app will be lost.

Safe to say, the announcement quickly garnered tens of thousands of replies within a few hours with very mixed reactions showing how divisive this new update is for users.

Many applauded the update, saying that it should’ve been added a long time ago as the social media platform has been increasingly flooded with automated bots, online harassment and K-pop fancams under irrelevant threads. In fact, Twitter has been losing millions of followers every quarter that it decided to stop announcing them starting 2019. Many have left the platform due to intense online harassment, sexual innuendos, possible witch hunts against them for past tweets in the new cancel culture and the like. So for many, this new feature would certainly be a much-welcomed change, making Twitter a safe space for them like it was first intended to.

However, there were many others who expressed how the new update could very well be abused for the wrong reasons. While Twitter has marketed it as a way to “[give] people control over the conversations they start”, it can also have huge ramifications for the kinds of people that start their conversation—for example, fake news sites.

With this feature, the circulation of fake news will inevitably be encouraged as people can no longer reply to the tweet and correct it. Fake news is already a huge concern for the platform, with many users unable to discern truth from fiction. Yes, you can still quote the tweet with your own comments but they will not get the reach and engagement you’re looking for.

Much like how it is giving a safe space for minorities to speak without getting harassed such as LGBT+ users, it is also providing an impenetrable barrier around racist, sexist or Nazi apologists who can now express whatever they want without the fear of being dragged. In other words, the new reply feature is all but enforcing the toxic echo chamber.

Will government figures such as the controversial President Donald Trump be able to use this feature as well, or will it impeach on the freedom of speech of his supporters and adversaries? It’s a fine line to cross and there aren’t necessarily any right (or wrong) answers yet.

With many realizing the potential of this no-reply feature, it didn’t take long for it to become a meme, as per Twitter culture. Celebrities such as Lil Nas X, musician and resident Twitter comedian, ironically showed how one could still troll with the new update.

Even Twitter could not help themselves

Or express their long-held unpopular opinions now without any qualms:

What do you guys think? Will this new reply feature make Twitter a safer and more comfortable platform or will it inevitably lead to more toxicity and elitism?

(Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on the folders for bookmarks update, Twitter…)

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