Twitter users may be about to find out what Twitter is like when virtually everything people use it for has been demolished. Then again, we could also be overreacting to a bit of social media-fueled hysteria.
Twitter’s announcement that it plans to update how people use the site has prompted fears that it is about to hide the number of likes and retweets a post gets.
The confusion began following a misunderstanding by some users that Twitter is planning to remove the engagements entirely from tweets.
Instead, Twitter is only testing putting engagements counts on replies behind a user tap – or click. Twitter attempted to clear up the confusion in a series of tweets responding to confused users.
“Hi! We’ve been rolling out quite a few things this week, so understand how this could be confusing,” Twitter’s communication team tweeted.
“Quick clarification: Yesterday, we started giving people access to our prototype app twttr which we’re using to test new ideas and get feedback. Putting likes and retweets behind a tap is just an idea to help make conversations easier to read.”
The Hide Tweet feature is designed to ’empower’ users by ridding their feeds of online trolls, though critics say it could distort conversations.
Users would still be able check the hidden comments but they would not automatically be shown, meaning conversation surrounding controversial tweets may be stifled.
“Free speech be damned,” one Twitter user wrote. “It’ll be great for seeing the world thru rose coloured glasses.”
Twitter’s senior product manager Yasmeen Haq responded to criticism on Twitter by saying the transparency of hidden replies would allow the community to notice and call out situations where people use the feature to hide content they disagree with.
She tweeted: “We think this can balance the product experience between the original Tweeter and the audience.”