Twitter is testing a tool to give users more control over comments, without going to the extreme of adding a delete button. Twitter users in the U.S. now have access to the hidden reply tool that the company confirmed earlier this year, as the test for the tool expands to two more countries. After an initial test in Canada, the feature is now rolling out to the U.S. and Japan, but is still in the testing phase.
The company suggests that the feature could help users control the conversation around the original Tweet. With the test, replies can be hidden individually. Anyone can see the hidden tweets by clicking on the hidden reply icon, with some exceptions for protected accounts. (If no replies are hidden, the icon won’t appear on the tweet).
Users aren’t notified if their reply is hidden, Twitter says. And while the test is only live in three countries, hidden replies are hidden worldwide. Twitter says most of the tweets that were hidden in the initial tests fall under the categories of being irrelevant, abusive, or unclear.
Currently, Twitter users only have three options for managing replies to their original tweet — and only reporting a tweet will get a reply deleted from everyone’s view if Twitter terms have been violated. Blocking a user prevents all future interactions, while the mute option keeps you from seeing that user’s tweets and replies.
The hide tool makes some responses less visible, without going as far as removing the response entirely. The test is Twitter’s compromise for allowing moderation for those comments without inadvertently creating a tool for censorship. Critics of the test, however, suggest the hide button will still allow users to censor opposing views, calling into question how many readers will actually click to read hidden replies.
If a user replies to a hidden reply, sending the comment into the Twitter feed, the reply is replaced with a notice that says the tweet is unavailable, Twitter says. Hidden replies can also be unhidden later, unless that user is blocked or muted after the reply is hidden.
The test is available across twitter.com as well as both the iOS and Android Twitter apps. The company expects to test the feature for several weeks.