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Twitter Will Test a ‘Hide Replies’ Feature to Fight ‘Abusive Content’

Twitter’s current system ”makes it super easy to harass and abuse“other users, chief Jack Dorsey says

Twitter will soon test a “hide replies” function, the company said on Tuesday, after chief Jack Dorsey — and several other executives — have spent much of the last year stressing the importance of improving the “health of public conversation” on the platform.

Twitter will start “experimenting” with the new feature in June, according to a company blog post, as a way to “give people more control over their conversations.”

The feature would allow users to pick and choose which replies to their tweets are shown in a tweet thread. The hidden replies wouldn’t be completely purged, Twitter exec Michelle Yasmeen Haq explained, and would be viewable by other users by clicking on a new menu option.

If adopted, the “hide replies” feature looks like the evolutionary next step to an algorithm tweak Twitter implemented last May, when the company started using machine learning to banish mean tweets to the “show more replies” section at the bottom of reply threads.

Twitter has spent much of the last year battling criticism on multiple fronts — with many on the left skewering the company for failing to ban all neo-Nazis and curb trolling. Many on the right, meanwhile, have argued the company has targeted conservative voices by selectively enforced its rules.

On Tuesday, the company outlined several steps it’s taken in the last year to make Twitter less “abusive,” including a 300% increase in the amount of “abusive accounts” that are banned within the first 24 hours of their infraction compared to the same time last year. Another 38% of “abusive content” is “surfaced proactively” to Twitter’s review team, allowing the company to act quicker in taking action, the company said.

Twitter’s enforcement update comes on the same day Dorsey said Twitter’s current “system makes it super easy to harass and abuse” other users, while speaking at the TED 2019 conference in Vancouver.