After initially announcing the launch of a “downvoting” feature in July, Twitter revealed on Wednesday that it would be taking the feature to the global testing stage, even as questions remain about whether a more positive or negative environment is fostered on the platform as a result.
The company announced that the “downvotes” will expand to more people on iOS and Android devices, and reiterated that the votes are not public, but can help the company determine what type of content different people actually wish to see.
We learned a lot about the types of replies you don’t find relevant and we’re expanding this test –– more of you on web and soon iOS and Android will have the option to use reply downvoting.
Downvotes aren’t public, but they’ll help inform us of the content people want to see. https://t.co/g8LcTpQqDv pic.twitter.com/wm5MmdR4Xh
Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) February 3, 2022
The feature, which is similar to one on TikTok, where users can select “not interested” on a video if it pops up on their “for you” page, allows for a more personalized experience on the app and allows users to find people who share similar interests, creating a more community-centered environment. It also allows users to see more of what they are specifically interested in, instead of everything on the app or just videos that are popular.
On Twitter, while users can say which topics they are interested in, it does not appear to be quite as specific and tailored as TikTok’s. Twitter reports that most users shared that “the reason they clicked the down arrow” was because a “reply was perceived as offensive” and/or “because they perceived it as not relevant.”
We’ve been testing how we can surface the most relevant replies within Tweets with the use of downvoting on replies. As we’re expanding the experiment to a global audience, we want to share a little about what we have learned thus far!
Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 3, 2022
Twitter also found that downvoting was the “most frequently used way for people to flag content they don’t want to see” and that users also agreed that downvoting “improves the quality of conversations on Twitter.”
However, the company has not talked about some of the negative effects that downvoting or disliking could have, which has happened on other sites. On TikTok, videos that are mass reported by bots are taken down even if they don’t violate TikTok’s community guidelines. Similarly, Facebook has found that dislike features have increased rampant negativity already present on the site.
Twitter has not yet announced when the “downvote” feature will be rolled out to all users, or if it ever will be. While the test should help the company figure out if the downvote option promotes a more hateful environment or fosters a better experience, their final decision is yet to be revealed.
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