Twitter is rolling out a “hide replies” function globally today, the biggest new feature to its platform since the invention of the “retweet.” It will be made available to all Twitter users. The new feature has sparked controversy over its design, which puts the original poster in control of which replies to their tweets remain visible. None of the replies are deleted, but are placed behind an extra click to allow the poster to hide replies that are irrelevant, insulting, or disagreeable. Twitter, whose platform is known for cultivating hot-headed, outrageous, hateful comments, aims to encourage online civility with the new feature, in which people will be aware beforehand that their nasty, trolling comments could be hidden. While the feature is meant to balance the conversation, it could also be used to silence critics, even those who are offering a fact-check to the original poster's tweet.
“Hide replies” was first tested in Canada in July, then in U.S. in Japan this September. The results were that most people tend to hide the replies they find irrelevant or annoying. Some users expressed concerns of retaliation for hiding users’ tweets since the icon remains visible, while others were disrupted by the large pop-up notification that appears when users encountered a tweet with hidden replies, which they find difficult to ignore. Twitter responded that this pop-up only appears the first time users encounter a post with hidden replies.