Twitter will soon allow users to ‘hide’ tweets for the purpose of moderation and conversation control, a company spokesperson has reportedly confirmed following the features being spotted by Twitter user Jane Manchun Wong in the app’s source code. Tucked behind an incoming “Hide Tweet” button to be added under the standard drop-down menu for individual tweets in the social media site and app, users will essentially be able to hide away a given tweet in a resulting stream.
Earlier reports indicated that a “View Hidden Tweets” option was on the way for the feed itself, hinting at a function for the new feature that’s not dissimilar to how ‘sensitive’ tweets are hidden. Users visiting the original tweet would then be able to view those hidden tweets at the tap of a button, allowing for a slight preventative measure against abuse of the new feature.
What makes this tool so different
The primary difference between the new feature and Twitter's algorithms that hide sensitive content is that viewing hidden tweets will require an extra step. In its current form, sensitive tweets that may be offensive to some users are moved to the bottom of a tweet's feed and hidden behind an option to reveal them. With the new feature, it appears as though the option to unhide tweets will need to be activated from the original tweet's arrowhead-shaped drop-down menu.
Another difference is in that the original users behind the Twitter post will have granular control over what remains seen or is hidden away. That will essentially mean that the Tweet’s owner would be able to conceal tweets that they feel don’t add to the conversation. Issues could arise from concerns about whether or not a given user is moderating more abusive possible uses, such as the tool's use to simply silence any opposition.
The obvious way to combat abuse is to allow users to see tweets that have been removed from initial public view by the original post's owner and that feature does appear to be on the way as well. There's no confirmation as to if or when that will be implemented for the time being though.
The apparent trend behind the move
Hiding tweets away, as noted above, isn't exactly something new and Twitter has been doing that with potentially offensive material and content for quite some time. The micro-blogging site has also continuously improved to ensure users have more control over what they do or do not see while also working to ensure that fewer echo chambers exist on the platform.
In the former of those two cases, Twitter has introduced measures as early as 2017 that allows users to block content from unknown users. That followed earlier features that worked to validate users more thoroughly by checking for an email address, phone numbers, and other similar information is provided on account creation. A crackdown on troll accounts started in 2018 as well, resulting in dozens of thousands of account suspensions.
Twitter has additionally worked to improve transparency on its social media site and app. That includes a bid to provide information on the source of ads -- particularly political advertisements -- among other tweaks and changes.
Each of those changes points to an ongoing shift toward allowing users to protect themselves while simultaneously allowing more meaningful conversation as well as keeping the platform open and preventing users from being silenced. The new tool will take things a step further in that direction.
Twitter is testing replies moderation. It lets you to hide replies under your tweets, while providing an option to show the hidden replies pic.twitter.com/dE19w4TLtp
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) February 28, 2019