Twitter expands its “hide reply” test to the US and Japan

It’s no secret that Twitter has a trolling problem, and one that the site has let spiral out of control. The difficulty Twitter has had in the past is balancing its free speech philosophy against moderation rules that are actually effective.

One early experiment has, according to the site, seen encouraging enough results to expand further. Earlier this year, Twitter allowed users to hide replies to their tweets in a test in Canada, and now the feature has rolled out to the USA and Japan.

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While critics worry this is censorship by any other name, hidden replies can still be seen – an icon appears on the original tweet showing that some have been removed, which you can click to see for yourself. 

The idea, as Twitter writes, is to “give people more control over the conversations they start,” allowing for the removal of unpleasant or irrelevant replies, without a more heavy-handed approach. Think of it as like a website moderating its own comments.

Twitter felt confident enough to expand the feature after what it sees as “positive trends” during the Canadian test. People tended to use it to hide replies that were either “irrelevant, abusive or unintelligible,” and users found it “helpful,” in the same way that muting keywords makes the experience better.  

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Perhaps more encouragingly for the wider goal of making Twitter a generally kinder environment to be in was the reaction people had when their replies were hidden. Twitter says that 27% of users who were moderated said they would “reconsider how they interact with others in future.”

That’s a good start, although to put it another way: 73% of muted users decided that the verdict of their peers wouldn’t change how they behaved with others at all…

Is the ability to hide replies the right approach for Twitter? Let us know what you think on – where else? – Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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