Twitter is testing new settings that let you choose who can reply to your tweet and join in on your conversation, the company said in a Wednesday blog post. Before you send a tweet, you'll be able to choose who can reply from three options: everyone on Twitter (which will be the default setting), only people you follow, or only people you mention.
If you choose one of the latter two options, your tweets will be labeled and the reply icon will be grayed out, so people will see that they can't reply. However, those that can't reply will still be able to view, retweet, retweet with comment or like your tweets.
Only a limited group of people on Twitter's iOS and Android apps as well as its website can currently send tweets that limit replies, but everyone can still see those conversations. It's unclear if or when the feature would roll out more generally.
Twitter originally unveiled its plan to give users more control over who can reply to a tweet in January, at CES 2020.
While limiting replies could help users prevent online bullying and make conversations on the platform easier to follow, it could also create more "filter bubbles," in which people's political viewpoints or biases are reinforced.
The American Civil Liberties Union and others raised concerns on Wednesday that the tool could be abused by public officials.
"As a general matter, Twitter's investment in user controls is a good thing. But public officials would be violating the First Amendment if they were to use this tool to block speakers on any accounts they've opened up for public conversation in their roles as government actors," said Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, in a statement. "Nor should public officials use this tool to decide who can, or can't, reply to accounts they have opened up for requests for government assistance, which may be on the rise due to COVID-19."
Kayvon Beykpour, who oversees Twitter's product team, said in a tweet that the company is looking out for potential risks.
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