Social Media has been controversial since the moment it was created. Older generations don’t seem to fully get it or understand the point, younger generations seem to only be able to express themselves when it’s done in a digital space, and everyone else is somewhere in the middle of using it constantly, to only using it every once in a while. Regardless of your stance, it’s in your life, whether you have an account or not on the multitude of platforms available our world is now a digital one and it’s not looking to change any time soon.
A growing concern surrounding this debate is it’s major impact on mental health, especially in impressionable teenagers. Young individuals seem to only seek validation through likes, comments, and shares on their posts. An insignificant number that only represents the amount of people who decided to double tap on something you posted is determining the emotional well-being of millions. In response to this, many major social media platforms are trying to combat artificial validation by testing the removal of things such as “likes” and “views” from its feeds. This way, users all together can focus more on the content they want to share, and not the content they want people to like.
Most recently, Instagram has begun its preliminary phases of removing “like” amounts from its public feeds, and now Twitter is allowing users to hide the amount of replies their tweets receive. Twitter has been testing this feature throughout the past year in different parts of the world and now, as of Thursday, has made it completely accessible to anyone with a Twitter account.
“Currently, repliers can shift the topic or tone of a discussion and derail what you and your audience want to talk about. We learned that the feature is a useful new way to manage your conversations. Twitter users can now hide replies to their tweets by tapping the gray icon that appears on their post and selecting ‘hide reply.’ Those replies will be moved to a different page, where they can still be viewed by other users. To see the hidden replies, users can select the ‘hidden reply’ icon on the tweet,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.
In addition, when a user hides a certain reply to one of their tweets, Twitter will ask the user if they would like to block the tweeter as well. This feature stems from a concern that was brought up when hidden replies were just in their preliminary phases, in which users said their main issue was the repliers response after finding out their tweet had been hidden by the original sender. The purpose of this feature is intended to keep Twitter threads of discussion on topic and civil, as well as remove any forms of harassment or bullying that feels threatening to those actually engaging in healthy and meaningful conversation.
Twitter themselves have stated that individuals who are considered “public figures” or politicians have, for the most part, not engaged with the new feature since its launch. However, that’s not surprising considering anyone in the spotlight this day and age is under constant scrutiny, it’s hard to filter out all of the negative and off-topic replies.
“The move is Twitter’s latest effort to improve well-being on its service. The company also said it’s looking into other ways to tackle this issue, such as exploring who can reply to or see certain conversations. The new tool could be used to block replies that are spammy or unrelated to the content of tweets. They could also be used to silence harassment, trolls or people with opposing viewpoints,” (CNN).
Facebook and Instagram have also announced their preliminary testing of features similar to this one. Overall these platforms want their brands to be about the content not about the validation that’s not actually validation and just a number on a screen.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.