Wednesday, January 8, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Twitter Will Add Options to Limit Replies

Dieter Bohn (via MacRumors):

Xie says Twitter is adding a new setting for “conversation participants” right on the compose screen. It has four options: “Global, Group, Panel, and Statement.” Global lets anybody reply, Group is for people you follow and mention, Panel is people you specifically mention in the tweet, and Statement simply allows you to post a tweet and receive no replies.

“Getting ratio’d, getting dunked on, the dynamics that happen that we think aren’t as healthy are definitely part of ... our thinking about this,” Xie says. When asked if there’s a concern if the ability to limit replies could mean misinformation couldn’t be as easily rebutted, Xie gestured to the ability to quote tweet as one possible resolution, but it’s “something we’re going to be watching really closely as we experiment.”

I don’t see how quote tweets would really help with that problem, since people would have no way of finding them.

Previously:

Update (2020-01-10): Mike Rockwell:

I mean, this does seem incredibly easy to bypass. Presumably, you could simply mention the person who published the Statement and not give your tweet the reply distinction. You could also just add a link to the statement to specifically reference what you’re “replying” to.

Benjamin Mayo:

Brands are definitely going to be making use out of the Statements mode. Below almost every brand tweet I see, often when the brand has paid for the tweet to be promoted to a wider audience, are replies from people complaining about something about the company’s products that is completely unrelated to the tweet content.

[…]

A Statement option would close that hole and make promoted posts much more like traditional display advertising. A public placard with no interaction.

Separately, I think Twitter certainly risks losing some of its ‘community’ if all celebrities suddenly switch to posting in Statement mode and thereby hiding all reactions to their tweets. I find a lot of the fun of Twitter is that feeling of everyone being able to jump in the same conversation.

3 Comments

People who are dumb enough to take *anything* at face value -- especially from Twitter or Facebook, but also MSM -- don't care about the truth, and almost certainly aren't swayed by replies that attempt to combat misinformation. IMHO, I think (hope) that this new feature will make Twitter less of a cesspool.

>People who are dumb enough to take *anything* at face value
>-- especially from Twitter or Facebook, but also MSM -- don't
>care about the truth, and almost certainly aren't swayed by
>replies that attempt to combat misinformation.

There's very strong evidence that this isn't true. Contradictory comments *do* impact people's perception of the original post. There's a lot of research on this topic, and the findings are pretty consistent.

You are right in one case: people who strongly believe in conspiracy theories. It's very difficult to change such a person's mind, because the conspiracy theory has a built-in defense mechanism against disconfirmining evidence: any disconfirmining evidence is part of the conspiracy, and thus *confirms* the conspiracy. For example, any news criticial of Trump that's coming out of the Trump administration confirms that there is a "deep state" who is actively working to undermine Trump, and thus has the opposite effect on people who believe in the conspiracy.

But the actual problem with these features is something else, I think: all of these features tend to assume good-faith actors.

Sure, if all of the people participating on Twitter were actually real people with genuinely-held beliefs, then a feature like this might be useful. But given that a lot of Twitter accounts are controlled by malicious actors, often by governments with an anti-democratic agenda, it's pretty easy to see how they can immediately exploit such a feature to make their own actions more effective.

Sören Nils Kuklau

For example, any news criticial of Trump that’s coming out of the Trump administration confirms that there is a “deep state” who is actively working to undermine Trump, and thus has the opposite effect on people who believe in the conspiracy.

The insidious thing about the “Deep State” conspiracy theory is that there is a “deep state”. Of course there is. It’s the two million federal government workers in agencies, departments, administrations. It’s a humongous apparatus, but given that Trump was lauded in part for his supposed business acumen, I’m sure he’ll have no problem managing it.

(Surely if your employees keep not doing what you want them to do, that’s kind of on you as a boss.)

But the actual problem with these features is something else, I think: all of these features tend to assume good-faith actors.

I think it’s a step in the right direction. It doesn’t take away the need to deal with bad-faith actors (such as improved detection and banning of bots), but it does help make Twitter a less horrible experience for those who have been experiencing… troubling replies.

I’m also not sure the default even makes sense. A lot of blogs don’t allow comments. Presentations infamously tend not to want “not a question, more of a comment” comments. And Twitter originally launched without any notion of mentions or replies at all, yet has since evolved into a network where replies are expected. Maybe it needs to evolve back into “don’t @ me” becoming the default.

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