Suppose you get ratioed all the time on Twitter for likely exaggerating your salary and spitballing logical fallacies on a news site and complaining about the temperature live from a White House briefing, and your name is Chris Cillizza. Today is your luckiest day on Twitter! The platform has announced a new function that gives users a range of options for limiting replies. You may resume tweeting in defence of Ivanka Trump to your heart’s content with full immunity.
You look like a shaved teddy bear
— Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) July 18, 2018
As the Verge first reported from CES, Twitter’s director of product management Suzanne Xie announced that the company will release the function at some point this year. A Twitter PR image shows a mock-up of a pop-up menu over the tweet field that offers a few choices for which users one would like to repel from replying to their bad opinions:
“Global,” is the traditional free-for-all
“Group,” which is people you follow and mention
“Panel,” which is just people you mention in the tweet
“Statement,” which disables all comments
This builds on Twitter’s recent “hide replies” addition which allows users to move replies to a still publicly viewable but separate page, which, notably, CNN’s Chris Cillizza has not done for the sick burns that are always coming his way. (We’ve asked Chris if he plans to use the new feature but have yet to receive a reply.)
That means we’ll likely have to dunk on all but the lamest of celebrities amongst ourselves, and God knows we’ll miss the centralised public forum in the presidential threads. Say hello to a lot more quote tweets. But this is a long-overdue move for a platform with a so-far scattershot, if not nonexistent, game plan to do something about hate speech and bullying that plagues the site. Jack’s public statements to this point have amounted to sphinx-like riddle.
cilizza, upon walking outside at the end of the day and being unable to find the sun, which he knows he saw mere hours ago: pic.twitter.com/EuxJdOLgJP
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) January 6, 2020
Taming replies could prevent another coordinated Chinese troll mob from silencing support of Hong Kong protesters, limit political sock puppets’ reach, and stop the mobs from driving people to self-harm. A Twitter spokesperson tells Gizmodo that this is part of Twitter’s effort to “help people feel safe participating in the conversation on Twitter.”
It’ll be interesting to see what protocol Twitter makes up for itself. Maybe disabling replies will be considered a dick move, like unfollowing everyone and making a big announcement about it; or maybe it’ll just be used the same as Instagram and Facebook’s measures of last resort. A few men have great power to pave the way.