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Echo Chamber: Twitter Is Changing Policy To Allow Users To Hide Replies

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Twitter announced a new policy Thursday that will allow accounts to hide replies from trolls who are either trying to derail conversation or post irrelevant information.

The massive social media platform initially beta-tested the policy in Canada in July before ultimately allowing every user to take part. Twitter laid out the details in a blog post Thursday, adding that the company’s intention is to make the platform safe for people.

“Anyone can choose to hide replies to their Tweets. Everyone can see and engage with hidden replies by tapping the grey icon that will appear on the Tweets,” the post notes. “This way, you have more control over the conversations you start, but people can still see the entire conversation.”

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Users can review the hidden reply if they click on a grey button undoing the block.

The policy change could allow politicians like President Donald Trump, for instance, to hide replies from their biggest detractors. A federal appeals panel ruled in July that the president could not block people from gaining access to this account because it constitutes a public forum.

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Trump often criticizes Twitter and other tech companies for supposedly censoring and discriminating against conservatives.

“Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction. It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!” Trump wrote in a tweet in June. Twitter banned right-wing firebrands Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones.

So far journalists and other major public figures are not hiding their replies, according to Twitter’s blog post.

The company noted that it’s still learning how the policy will affect the platform. It would also allow users to nix replies from people who are trying to offer a fact-check to a tweet that contains potentially false or misleading information. Some people on Twitter raised other concerns.

“I wonder if this pop up makes people more likely to pay attention to hidden replies than if they were never hidden in the first place,” Alex Kantrowitz, a tech reporter at BuzzFeed, noted in a Nov. 18 tweet. Using such large pop ups might create a type of Streisand Effect, a phenomena where hiding information actually leads to publicizing that information more widely.

Twitter has not yet responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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