Twitter is making its response limiting feature available to all users starting today, and it’s real this time: you can finally say goodbye to the response folks. The company’s director of product management, Suzanne Xie, writes in a blog post published Tuesday that the feature is part of the platform’s efforts to give people more control over their conversations on the platform.
“Sometimes people are more comfortable talking about what happens when they can choose who can answer,” Xie said in the post, adding that Twitter has seen people use the settings to have conversations that weren’t possible before. “Starting today, anyone can use these settings so that unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.”
Here’s how the feature works. Before a tweet is sent, users have three options to choose who can reply: everyone, which is the default, only people following the users, or only people the user mentions in the tweet. If you choose a setting other than the default setting, the answer icon will be grayed out for anyone not allowed to answer. And even if they can’t reply, other Twitter users can still retweet, comment, share, or like the tweet in question.
Xie writes in the blog post that Twitter’s research shows that people who had access to the limited responses felt more comfortable tweeting and were better protected from spam and abuse, and did not lead to an increase in unwanted direct messages. And it’s another way to block out noise, Twitter discovered; 60 percent of people using the settings did not use the mute or block options of the platform during the testing period.
Twitter has been experimenting with the limited replies feature since May, and last week pushed an update to the iPhone version of its mobile app that made it look like the general rollout was already underway. But it eventually turned into a false alarm – Twitter said it accidentally pushed the release notes, the company said.
Whether restricting replies to tweets actually improves conversation on Twitter remains to be seen, but the company says some users have used the settings to have more sensitive conversations about politics and social issues. “People share more of their thoughts – candies using these settings on topics like Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 are on average longer than those who don’t use these settings,” the blog post said. And “different opinions” can still be shared via the retweet with the option to comment / quote tweet, so the people who respond can just become the quotes.