In recent years, Twitter leadership has made it a goal to be more transparent in its decision-making and to provide more detailed route maps for new functions and other major changes to the platform. Just look at the rather epic multi-tweet Facebook removal of CEO Jack Dorsey when he announced the platform's political ban on advertising last week.
In that spirit, Dantley Davis, the vice president of design and research at Twitter, last night has released a list of functions he says he is excited to "explore" in 2020. They include some fundamental changes in how Twitter works, in particular how the retweet works and how free users can pull others into their conversations with or without their permission.
Although Davis says he "looks forward" to these functions in 2020, it doesn't seem likely that he will officially announce them. Twitter's product gurus have recently become more outspoken about current or just experimental ideas, but they can be announced at some point in the future. (In a follow-up tweet, Davis refers to them as "ideas he would like to explore."
Features I'm looking forward to in 2020.
– Remove me from this conversation
– Do not allow RT for this tweet
– Don't allow people @mention me without my permission
– Delete this @mention from this conversation
– Tweet this only to: hashtag, interest or these friends
– Dantley (@dantley) November 5, 2019
There are two that stand out the most. The first is the ability to disable a retweet for your tweet. That could help prevent it from spreading across the wider Twitter network, in case you are worried about malicious people or other bad actors who want to reinforce the signal as a way to direct negative attention in your way. In other words, it is a function against intimidation.
Aside from making your account private, which may not be in your interest if you are a public-oriented person (such as a journalist or artist) or a bona fide public figure, this can be a useful tool to reduce the viral spread of a tweet which you believe is misinterpreted or used against you for reasons not related to the actual content of the message. This would of course not prevent people from going to your profile and watching the tweet there. But it seems like a really smart approach to promoting healthier conversations and reducing toxicity.
The creator of the retweet button, software developer Chris Wetherell, told BuzzFeed News in an interview last summer that the feature, developed in 2009, looked like handing over & # 39; a 4-year loaded weapon & # 39 ;. He says that Twitter has not thought about the implications of creating a button that can extend the reach of a message, regardless of context, and that the retweet button may have made the platform worse in general.
Dorsey even told it BuzzFeed he understands the feeling. "Certainly think about the incentives and consequences of all actions, including retweet," he said at the time. "For example, retweet with comment may require more attention before it is distributed."
The other feature that Davis mentions is primarily the ability to prevent other users from calling you without your permission. That can also fundamentally change the way Twitter works, if you suddenly can no longer tag people in threads or dunk tweets without getting their explicit permission in advance. Again, this is very similar to an anti-harassment feature.
Call-out culture is still a fundamental element of Twitter discourse, and publicly mentioning a user in a tweet that criticizes them makes it easier for people viewing the tweet to follow. It provides them with a link to your profile and ensures that every answer they give is also shown in your listings (depending on your settings).
This can result in an enormous stream of negative mentions that effectively make Twitter unusable and, often, a miserable and unyielding source of online vitriol. Although Twitter today has built better filtering and moderation tools to help reduce the visibility of negative tweets, it is still not great to come across a barrage of intimidation on your listing tab. Completely cutting off that process would be a fascinating experiment in personal moderation that could have profound platform-level effects on the way people communicate on Twitter.
That said, these are not official functions. Davis wrote one follow-up tweet which indicates that the company may not even be actively working on one of them. He says that Twitter requires community feedback on what to prioritize and ways to safely implement certain functions without ruining other parts of the product that work well today.
Thank you for the feedback and discussion about the ideas that I would like to explore in the future. Our goal is to further improve the public conversation on Twitter and to get feedback from the community on our ideas is useful because we prioritize our work. https://t.co/LFb1HHZcN2
– Dantley (@dantley) November 5, 2019
The edge has contacted Twitter for more clarity about the product roadmap regarding these features, and whether it is seriously planning to implement one or all of them by the end of next year.