After announcing it at CES 2020 and testing it for the last few months, Twitter has opened up access to its new ‘limit replies’ feature. The idea is to stop ‘reply guys’ – people who feel they need to regularly reply to tweets with over-familiar and mansplainy responses. Often these are men commenting on a woman’s tweets, but of course, that isn’t the case 100 percent of the time.
The new feature enables you to specify one of three options for replies to tweets. Everyone, which is the default we all use now. People you follow – so you can stop randoms replying. And finally, only people you mention.
You can use that latter option to stop replies completely if you don’t mention anybody, but you can also turn a tweet into a conversation between several people. Perhaps you want to hold a Q&A with a handful of people – well now you can.
Tweets with the restricted settings will be labelled as such and the reply icon will be grayed out for those who aren’t able to reply. It’s worth noting that these features don’t hide tweets away, while people who can’t reply can still ‘quote reply’ – known officially as Retweet with Comment – and they can retweet them, too.
We’ve had the feature for a few months now and it has been useful on a couple of occasions when we’ve said something – usually political – that you just know someone will respond to.
Interestingly, Twitter says that people who tested the feature seem to feel safer to share thoughts – “Tweets using these settings about topics like Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 are on average longer than those that don’t use these settings,” says Twitter’s director of product Suzanne Xie in a blog post.
Xie says that differing points of view still get exposed: “Retweets with Comments… sometimes reach a larger audience than the original Tweet. Several times, we saw more Likes and views on a Retweet with Comment than on the original Tweet, even though the original Tweet author had more followers.”
“We’ll keep working on making it easier for people to find the entire discussion through Retweets with Comments. Also, we’re trying out a new label to make it more obvious when these conversation settings are used.” You can see that label in the tweet right here: