Twitter’s radical “Hide Replies” feature, one of the biggest changes to how Twitter works since the invention of the Retweet, is now available to Twitter’s global user base. The company says the feature will roll out to all Twitter users across platforms by today, with only one slight tweak since earlier tests.
Designed to balance the conversation on Twitter by putting the original poster back in control of which replies to their tweets remain visible, Hide Replies has been one of Twitter’s more controversial features to date. While no replies are actually deleted from Twitter when a user chooses to hide them, they are placed behind an extra click. That means the trolling, irrelevant, insulting or otherwise disagreeable comments don’t get to dominate the conversation.
Twitter’s thinking is that if people know that hateful remarks and inappropriate behavior could be hidden from view, it will encourage more online civility.
However, the flip side is that people could use the “Hide Replies” feature to silence their critics or stifle dissent, even when warranted — like someone offering a fact check, for example.
Since its launch, Twitter found that most people hide the replies they find irrelevant, off-topic or annoying. It also found people were using this instead of harsher noise reduction controls, like block or mute. In Canada, 27% of surveyed users who had their tweets hidden said they would reconsider how they interacted with others in the future, which is a somewhat promising metric.
The feature is, however, getting a slight change with its global debut. Twitter says some people wanted to take further action after hiding a reply, so now it will check to see if they want to block the replier, too. It also heard from some users that they were afraid of retaliation because the icon remains visible. It’s not making a change on that front at this time, but is still considering how to address this.
Another concern that was often mentioned on Twitter as the new feature first rolled out was the large pop-up notification that appears when users encountered a tweet with hidden replies.
Some people found the notification was so large and disruptive that it actually encouraged people to pay more attention to the hidden replies than they would otherwise.