It seems like social media companies are finally realising that no one likes rando trolls blowing up their mentions. Or being ratioed. Or having unwelcome porn bots reply to something you tweeted five years ago. Taking a cue from Instagram’s latest tag and mention controls, Twitter has just started testing its own reply controls.
The new feature is only available to a small percentage of people around the world currently, but those who do have access will get to control who can reply their tweets without locking down their accounts. There are currently three controls you can apply to replies: everyone can reply, only people who follow you can reply, and only the people you mention in your tweet can reply. Everyone can still read and like your tweet, but you control who engages with it.
A new way to have a convo with exactly who you want. We’re starting with a small % globally, so keep your ???? out to see it in action. pic.twitter.com/pV53mvjAVT
— Twitter (@Twitter) May 20, 2020
It’s unclear if you’ll be able to go back in time and limit your reply audience in the same way Facebook lets you mass-limit who can see your posts. It’s also not clear if the new reply control feature will work with a long Twitter thread. For instance, I might tag someone in an original tweet, but when I add a second tweet, I tag a different person. If I set my reply preferences to only the people I mention, does that apply to the entire thread or only the individual tweets? We’ll put it to the test when we get access to see how granular these settings can be.
Like any new social media feature, this one seems like it can be used for both good and evil. A high-profile public figure who posts something completely asinine has the option to let everyone see it but prevent anyone from responding. On the other hand, the tool could help further prevent harassment. You can already set direct message settings to allow just the people you follow to DM you, which keeps the riffraff out. With these new reply controls, it seems like Twitter is doubling down to make it harder for people who want to harass you to do so. Will it stop people from making throwaway accounts for that purpose? Nah. After all, you can still quote tweet and offer a reply that way. But it’ll make reply guys have to work a little harder to make you notice them.