Only on Twitter can you Tweet about your weekend baking project and spiral into a debate with an unusually aggressive bot. Even its wittiest, most-entertaining users call it a "hell-hole" every once in a while. It’s a give-and-take with Twitter. But it’s so good when it's just you and your Twitter friends, engaging in discourse and whatnot.
Starting today, users will be able to adjust the settings in their Tweets to limit who can reply. This feature has been in testing since late May. New York Times contributor and author of Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay was among those to have an early preview. Gay has been public about the online harassment she is often subjected to as a fat Black woman and tweeted that being able to control her replies made the app a safer space for her. Twitter also teased the upcoming feature around the end of May.
With every tweet you share, you will now be able to choose from three reply settings. Letting anyone reply is the default setting, but you can also limit replies to only people you follow. If you want to have a public conversation with no interruptions, you can set it so that only the people mentioned can reply.
Twitter, like most major social platforms, is finally dealing with the forces of harassment and disinformation that run rampant online. It has taken serious measures to curb QAnon-related activity, which often involves "swarming" an individual's replies and harassing them. In its announcement of the new feature, Twitter noted that above all else, the ability to moderate replies made people feel safer on the platform.
However, it seems like it's not a tool you can easily resort to if the goal is to shut down the conversation entirely. People will still be able to like, share, retweet, and retweet with comments.