CES 2020: Twitter To Test Reply-Limiting Tech

Twitter is to take another experimental step in an effort to stop online abuse often found on the microblogging service.

The firm said it will experiment early this year with limiting replies to a user’s tweet, in effort to combat online abuse.

Twitter is known for its (at times) toxic environment. Indeed, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter Jack Dorsey in April last year, announced he wanted to change the platform and move “away from outrage and mob behaviour and towards productive, healthy conversation.”

Tighter controls

During a presentation at the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, Twitter reportedly laid out plans to test new features that would allow users to control who can reply to their tweets.

“We want to help people feel safe participating in the conversation on Twitter,” the company was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Indeed, Twitter last year launched a feature which allows its users to hide certain replies to their tweets, as a part of its efforts to clean up abusive content and make the social media platform more user-friendly.

But now Twitter is said to trying four new features, that will reportedly be tested early this year, will allow users to select four different settings for replies:

Users can firstly use a ‘global’ setting, to allow to respond to their tweet.

Secondly users can set a ‘group’ setting, which will only allow replies from people the user follows, or mentioned.

The third setting is called ‘panel’ and this will only allow replies from people mentioned, the BBC reports.

And fourthly a ‘statement’ setting will not allow any replies at all.

Some may feel this last setting will allow people, such as President Trump, to issue statements without being challenged on them.

Greater scrutiny

But the micro-blogging platform it seems is recognising the scrutiny they are now facing from regulatory bodies around the world on how they hand online harassment.

It should be remembered that in April 2019, the British government published plans for an independent regulator that could impose huge fines on tech firms that propagate dangerous or illegal content.

The Online Harms White Paper, jointly proposed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office, was viewed a step toward imposing curbs on social media and other tech firms.

It proposes an independent body, either a new regulator or an existing one such as Ofcom, that would create a code of practice for internet firms.

The body would be funded by tech firms themselves, possibly through a levy.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has previously called for standardised international rules that would put all internet firms on a level playing field.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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