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Twitter will soon let you control who replies to your tweets to curb abuse – but it could have the opposite effect

The plans were announced by Twitter's director of product management, Suzanne Xie, at an event at CES 2020

In an attempt to stem the rising tide of abuse and harassment on Twitter, the social network has made changes to what it’s describing as  “conversation dynamics.”

 Speaking at an event at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Twitter’s director of product management, Suzanne Xie, announced plans to let you limit who can reply to your tweets. 

Xie said that when the plans begin rolling out, Twitter users will be given four options:

  • Global: Anyone and everyone can reply
  • Group: Only people you follow and mention can reply
  • Panel: Only people specifically mentioned in the tweet can reply
  • Statement: No one can reply 

Currently, Twitter only allows you to hide replies to tweets, and mute or block certain people meaning the replies are still there, they’re just not either visible to you or others. The social network is also set to gain more conversational features, such as threaded replies. 

This update will see Twitter’s controls resemble Facebook’s more closely. On Facebook, you can set your posts to Public, all Friends, Specific Friends, Friends except…, and Only Me. 

However, while many praised Twitter’s update, especially for helping to protect the general public from abuse and trolling, concerns were raised about its potential to be abused by public figures and celebrities. The Statement option, in particular, could be used to post controversial opinions and misinformation that has no way of being called out or questioned. 

To somewhat address this point, Xie did add that Twitter was exploring the option of allowing quote retweets of limited posts, meaning that people couldn’t reply, as such, but could still voice any grievances or hold the posts to account. Yet this comes with its own problems as maliciously quoted retweets might have a more damaging, far-reaching impact than a reply would have done.

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