New narrowcasting options from Twitter

More controls for conversation on Twitter – is this a positive change to reduce trolling or the beginning of closed communities on the platform?

One of the latest announcements from Twitter was made during an appearance by Suzanne Xie, Twitter’s director of product management, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. Similar to Facebook’s privacy choices when you create a post (public, friends only, friends except, etc.), they are in the process of researching a feature which has four options: Global, Group, Panel, and Statement.

Twitter audience control

Kayvon Beykpour, VP of product at the company said “the primary motivation is control. We want to build on the theme of authors getting more control and we’ve thought… that there are many analogs of how people have communications in life.”

The four settings are:

  • Global – Anyone can reply to the tweet
  • Group – Only people you follow or mention would be able to reply
  • Panel – Only people you directly mention within the tweet text itself would be able to reply
  • Statement – No tweet replies would be allowed

Now, many will say this is a great move, giving the author control and the ability to “narrowcast” or reduce the potential spread of their tweets. Certainly, any individual user or brand who has experienced negative replies or trolling would, I’m sure, agree. But isn’t one of the things we love about Twitter the fact that brands can respond to brands… that anyone with a good rebuttal argument has the chance to air it, challenging the status quo, righting some wrongs or simply correcting fake news?

Beykpour added, “It’s actually quite difficult to have a fireside chat when you have a billion people screaming into your ear.”

This indicates they’d like to foster limited discussions, possibly interview style, and could this be live – again following in the steps of Facebook, and hopefully improving Twitter’s “live” functionality which has recently, quietly, been shushed back into an invite-only beta. Could they be looking at driving conversations in a more similar way to a broadcaster, even?

IMHO, we might well miss that opportunity for totally open conversation in the long run… Twitter is the only major platform that offers this level of freedom, and as humans, we do so hate it when our freedom is limited.

Watch this space for news of the rollout – it’s in a small trial beta apparently, set to be released late in 2020.

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