Early in February Twitter unveiled a new set of tools to fight harassment on the site. While they don’t do much to end harassment, they are seriously getting in the way of functionality.
When users said naughty words, Twitter decided to temporarily disable account features. (Just yesterday Twitter put someone in a timeout for saying “fuck you” to Mike Pence). Twitter also began “ghost” deleting offensive Tweets. The idea was to send users a warning of sorts without outright banning them.
Perhaps the most invasive and annoying anti-harassment tool is Twitter hiding massive amounts of comments. On some threads over half the comments are now invisible to users. Only by logging out can a user see the full thread of comments and there is no way to turn this feature off.
“Our team has also been working on identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward. These Tweet replies will still be accessible to those who seek them out. You can expect to see this change rolling out in the coming weeks.”
But is Twitter even doing a good job at deciding between abusive and non-abusive tweets?
Not really. Take this thread, for example. There was two comments, one which does not appear to users who are logged in.
Which comment do you think was deleted by Twitter? The low-effort first one by Kyle Foley (a colleague of mine at Heat Street) or the one by Sith Khan, which included interesting information and added to the conversation.
Yep, Twitter hid the second comment. It appears verified users are exempt from comment hiding, but the common folk are subject to replying to tweets with no guarantee their voice will be heard. (For the record, Khan’s comment sheds light on a genuine and worthy debate about whether the popular video game is in part cribbed from a cult fantasy novel.)
Many longtime users of Twitter hate this new feature, which makes reading comment threads a pain.
Holy shit he's right. There are seven replies, I only see four. Wtf. https://t.co/OxBHMuGut0
— Liz Finnegan (@TheGingerarchy) February 23, 2017
Ironically only 17 of the 41 comments are visible in the Tweet above. This is like Twitter trying to crush a cockroach with a steamroller.
Twitter already has a problem attracting average people to use the site. It’s overrun with journalists and self promoters using the platform to gain visibility. Why would an average joe sign up for Twitter now if they knew half the times they commented, it would never be seen?
Good luck with that rapidly plummeting stock price, TWTR.