Twitter is making its reply-limiting feature available to all users starting today, and it’s for real this time: You can finally say goodbye to the reply guys. The company’s director of product management, Suzanne Xie, writes in a blog post published Tuesday that the feature is part of the platform’s efforts to give people more control over their conversations on the platform.
“Sometimes people are more comfortable talking about what’s happening when they can choose who can reply,” Xie said in the post, adding that Twitter has seen people use the settings to have conversations that weren’t previously possible. “Starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.”
Here’s how the feature works. Before sending a tweet, users will have three options to choose who can reply: everyone, which is the standard default setting, only people the users follows, or only people the user mentions in the tweet. If you pick a setting other than the default, the reply icon will be grayed out for anyone not allowed to reply. And even if they can’t reply, other Twitter users can still retweet, comment, share, or like the tweet in question.
Xie writes in the blog post that Twitter’s research shows people who had access to the limited replies felt more comfortable tweeting and more protected from spam and abuse, and didn’t lead to an increase in unwanted direct messages. And it’s another way to block out noise, Twitter found; 60 percent of people who used the settings didn’t use the platform’s mute or block options during the test period.
Twitter has been experimenting with the limited replies feature since May, and last week pushed an update to the iPhone version of its mobile app that made it seem as if the general rollout was already underway. Yet it ended up being a false alarm — Twitter said it pushed the release notes by mistake, the company said.
Whether limiting replies to tweets actually improves conversation on Twitter remains to be seen, but the company says some users have used the settings to have more sensitive conversations about politics and social issues. “People are sharing more of their thoughts —tweets using these settings about topics like Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 are on average longer than those that don’t use these settings,” the blog post states. And “differing views” can still be shared via the retweet with comment/quote tweet option, so the reply guys may just become the quote guys.
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