Twitter has been a little more proactive in protecting users from bullying and trolling in the last year or so, and now it is taking its boldest step yet to protect users.
It is developing a new tool that will enable users to control who is able to reply to their tweets and get all up in their mentions.
The new controls, set to launch later this year, will enable users to limit replies to people who they follow or mention in the tweet. This Group setting will be joined by Panel, which will prevent anyone who isn’t mentioned in the conversation from replying.
Related: CES 2020 – our full coverage
If you just want to make a Statement, you can lock down the replies completely, negating the need to include “don’t @ me, bro” in your next tweet containing a hot take. The current setting will remain in place and will be known as Global.
While the tools, which will be tested among some users before rolling into the main app later in 2020, will certainly make it possible for users to protect themselves from potential harassment, there are also potential freedom of speech ramifications.
For example, if politicians were to use the settings to make Statements, it will limit the ability for the public and journalists to respond, or to call out potential falsehoods as part of a larger thread.
During an event at CES 2020 (via The Verge), Twitter’s director of product management Suzanne Xie said the prospect of misinformation going unchecked is “something we’re going to be watching really closely as we experiment.” One possible solution could be the ability to quote the tweet.
The tools are similar to Facebook’s privacy settings which enable users to post updates to the Public, Friends, Friends Except, Specific Friends or Just Me. There’s also the ability to customise settings or post things to certain groups.