Twitter’s New Anti-Bullying Features: An Imperative for Social Media in 2020?


Twitter launches new feature providing users more control over their conversations on the platform.

Twitter yesterday, rolled out a new feature allowing users to restrict who replies to their tweets. The reply-limiter available to all users is a part of the platform’s attempt to give users more control over their conversations on the platform.

According to a blog postOpens a new window written by Suzanne Xie, director of product management at Twitter, this feature will encourage people to engage more meaningfully and block out trolls. Xie said, “Everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.”

Users can limit replies by choosing any of the three options before tweeting:

  1. Everyone (standard twitter and default setting)
  2. Only people they follow
  3. Only people mentioned

Tweets with the latter two settings are labelled and the reply icon is deactivated for people who cannot reply. Although people will still be able to retweet, share, or like the tweet in question.

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A screenshot of the twitter mobile app displaying the ‘who can reply’ option.
A screenshot of the twitter mobile app displaying the ‘who can reply’ option.

According to the company, users who tried the limited replies feature felt more comfortable tweeting and more protected from spam and abuse and did not receive more unwanted direct messages. The limit reply feature also allowed users to block out noise effectively without resorting to mute or block options. Twitter found that 60% of people who used the settings did not use the platform’s mute or block options during the trial period.

Will Limiting Replies Lead to Less Bullying or Trolling on Twitter?

Only time will tell. However, the company believes that users can apply the new settings to have more sensitive conversations about politics and social issues. “People are sharing more of their thoughts – Tweets using these settings about topics like Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 are on average longer than those that don’t use these settings,” wrote Xie. And “differing views” can still be shared via the retweet with comment/quote tweet option, preserving users’ freedom of expression.

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📣 Everybody on Twitter now has the ability to choose who can reply to their Tweets.

By default, replies can come from anybody but you can also limit to just people you follow, or specific people you mention. Give it a try, and let us know what you think!

— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) August 11, 2020Opens a new window

Kavyon Beykpour, VP of product at Twitter, first announced the concept back in January at CES to provide users with more control over their conversations.

Twitter just announced that it will soon start letting people choose who can reply to them before they tweet. Basically, you’re going to get more controls before you compose tweets #CES2020Opens a new window @inputmagOpens a new window

— Edgar Alvarez (@abcdedgar) January 8, 2020Opens a new window

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In November 2019, Twitter had published a draft policy to limit fake and manipulated content that purposely tries to mislead or confuse people. While it is yet to come out with capabilities that curb fake news or deep fake or shallow fake, limit replies is certainly a welcome move to clamp down on cyberbullying on the platform.

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