Twitter confirms that it’s working on a new feature that that company says will allow users to protect their conversations. This feature in question, uncovered in Twitter’s code, will appear to be available from a list of choices prompted upon clicking the “Share” button on a tweet.
The “Hide Tweet” functionality acts as an alternative to muting or blocking users completely, while still offering some control over conversations.
In relation, it appears there will also be a “View Hidden Tweets” option, which is self-explanatory. Researcher Jane Manchun Wong first discovered the Hide Tweet feature, positing her discovery on Twitter on Thursday. She says she found the feature hidden within the code of Twitter for Android.
Twitter has since confirmed that it’s actively working on the feature, as TechCrunch reports. Being able to hide tweets is already drawing criticism, however. Some users expressed concern that this kind of option would allow users to silence their critics, not just for themselves but also for anyone reading the conversation. One scenario they gave sees a highly controversial political figure choosing to bury tweets that go against their beliefs.
As previously mentioned, users will still have the option to view hidden replies, but it requires a separate click. People either may not know how to do that or not even bother. If so, they might miss out on important points raised by dissenting voices and perspectives that have been otherwise buried.
Even still, the Hide Tweet option most benefits the user as it will give them more control over which replies they want to make visible on the platform. Other users might also be less likely to engage in vitriolic arguments knowing that their tweets could get hidden.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Hide Tweet option will hide the content from everyone or just the person who clicked the button. However, Wong later published the code reference itself, where the feature is referred to as an act of “moderation” — which could mean it’s more about the freedom to adjust the conversation in general instead of a personal setting.
Twitter has now shared its reasoning behind the Hide Tweet feature, saying it wants to empower people to make healthy conversations as much as possible by giving them some control over them.
“We think of conversations as an ecosystem of different groups: authors, repliers, the audience and the platform,” said Michelle Yasmeen Haq, senior product manager. “We try to balance the experience across all four groups, and we are continuously exploring ways to shift the balance without overcorrecting.”