12/01/2021

Twitter Launching New Privacy Related Features to Improve User Experience

Twitter is launching a variety of new features in an effort to make people more comfortable interacting and sharing on the platform. The features aim to give users of the social network more control over their conversations, Tweets, online identities and other privacy-related content. The tools are related to what Twitter executives call “social privacy,” which includes information like a person’s list of followers, the Tweets they like, and whether their accounts are public or private.

Some changes that are expected to happen include the ability to archive old tweets. Archived Tweets would be visible to the user, but not to others. The company is currently considering a variety of time options for when tweets can be hidden, including after 30, 60, and 90 days, or a full year. This feature is still in the concept phase.

Users might also soon be able to remove followers, a process which is only possible now by blocking a person and unblocking them. This feature will be tested starting this month.

Users will soon be able to set who can see the tweets they have liked. The options will include everyone, just their followers, or select groups. There is no timeline for testing this feature.

Users of the social media app will be given the option to remove themselves from a public conversation on Twitter. Currently, only the person sending a tweet can choose who to mention. Twitter plans to test this before year-end.

Twitter employees have reported seeing users develop workarounds for these issues because the aforementioned features do not exist. Currently, it’s impossible to limit who sees the Tweets you like or removing someone from your follower list without blocking them. Lots of other users manually delete old Tweets, instead of having an archive or hide option.

Some people claim that the ability to hide old Tweets is helpful for those who want to apply to a new job or educational institute, but might be concerned about a potentially controversial social media presence. However, other groups argue that old Tweets say a lot about people’s ideologies and where they stand. Especially when it comes to proving abuse, old tweets that express harmful opinions may be useful in proving or maintaining a pattern of abusive behaviour. Similarly, being able to hide tweets you like from other people, while a fairly routine social media feature, can be harmful. Liked tweets can also represent a harmful ideology or dangerous opinions a person might hold. Questions about accountability have now risen, with many wondering whether these changes might allow people to hide questionable parts of their beliefs.

Still, Twitter maintains that these are part of the platform’s efforts toward improving user experience and interactions with other accounts. To this end, Twitter is currently also experimenting with a feature called Safety Mode, through which the platform will automatically block another account that’s engaging in potentially abusive or spammy behavior. The autoblock will remain active for seven days.

“Autoblock is Twitter’s way of helping people control unwelcome interactions,” a blog post said. 

Twitter will use automated technology to look at the content of a tweet and the relationship between the Tweet author and replier to determine if a block is warranted. 

The new feature is currently launching for a “small feedback group” in the beta stage. The feature will go live for Android, iOS, and the Twitter website, with English enabled. 

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