Twitter introduced a new feature that allows users to limit who can reply to their tweets, according to a statement by Suzanne Xie, Twitter’s Director of Product Management.
Users will now have three options to choose who can reply to their tweets: everyone, only people they follow or only people they mention. Previously, Twitter’s only option was everyone.
Tweets with limited-replying will be labeled and the reply icon will be grayed out for people who can’t reply. People who can’t reply will still be able to view, retweet, retweet with comment, share, and like these tweets.
“Starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations,” Xie said.
The feature makes people feel safer, according to feedback from initial testings in May.
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“These settings help some people feel safer and could lead to more meaningful conversations, while still allowing people to see different points of view,” Xie said.
According to the feedback, people feel more comfortable tweeting and more protected from spam and abuse, and find that these settings are a new method to block out noise. Over 60% of people who used the feature during the test didn’t use Mute or Block.
Amid conversations regarding Black Lives Matter and COVID-19, the company spokesperson said she hopes this setting encourages people to share their thoughts more.
The feature is available to everyone, including the president and other public officials.
The new feature poses concerns on whether the new feature violates the First Amendment, according to legal expert Jasmine McNealy.
“It should be known for public officials that you shouldn’t be using this feature to cut off anyone,” said McNealy, who is a professor of information, communication, and technology at the University of Florida.
Although Twitter users can still retweet with comment, McNealy said not being able to reply still silences users.
“Users are basically cut off from that direct conversation,” said McNealy.
Recently, the social media platform also created labels for profiles belonging to government officials and state-run media entities.
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