Social media marketing on Twitter can be more problematic than other platforms due to the open nature of the system. With Twitter, everyone can talk to everyone else on the platform. Theoretically, this openness is good for discourse and marketing. However, it can also lead to toxic behavior from people with an ax to grind. Twitter is rolling out a tool that will make it easier to hide replies from Tweets.
Back in February, social media marketers began to notice a test where Twitter would allow some users to hide replies. The testing phase isn’t complete, but it’s reached a point where Twitter is ready to test the feature on a larger scale. Not only did Twitter confirm the trial, but it also announced that users should expect it to become a part of their experience around June.
In a post that outlined many of the things that the company has done to improve the Twitter ecosystem, a small note at the end announced the “hide replies” testing.
Twitter wrote, “Starting in June, we’ll be experimenting with ways to give people more control over their conversations by giving them an option to hide replies to their Tweets.”
Twitter believes that providing this functionality will make Twitter a little less toxic. It gives account holders more control over what they see on Twitter. Furthermore, it’s a form of control that can be implemented without having to fill out forms or complaining to the Twitter support team. The feature can be extremely useful for organizations on Twitter that are magnets for controversy and activism.
One thing that remains to be seen is whether or not this feature removes the benefit of being on Twitter. Most people aren’t making Tweets and content just to talk to themselves. They want their content to be seen by others and to generate a discussion around their Tweet. Choosing to hide all replies will remove any negative content, but it will also prevent good responses from being seen. There are times when this tradeoff is acceptable, but there will more situations where it’s better to encourage discussion, even if that means monitoring and removing inappropriate replies.
Another thing to consider is that having replies hidden could make a Twitter channel less attractive to people searching on the platform. People use replies and likes on Twitter as a way to judge the quality of a Tweet and the discussion it generates. If a channel is hiding all of its responses, there’s less reason for someone to browse the content. Similarly, people want to engage with content on Twitter. Knowing that all replies won’t be seen may discourage people from engaging with content from a particular Twitter profile.
Twitter itself may be on the fence about the usefulness of the feature. Though testing in one form or another has been going on since February, the latest announcement still lists this feature as an “experiment.” The function may need some fine-tuning, and if the concerns mentioned above become actual problems, the feature could be scrapped entirely. We’ll have to wait and see.
For the latest news about changes and updates to Twitter, read this article on a “Subscribe to Conversation” feature that Twitter recently tested.