by Elton Gomes
Twitter is testing two new features that are connected to users’ presence on the social media platform. Twitter could be introducing such features in an attempt to increase conversations and engagement over the platform.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey put out a tweet last week and indicated that the platform might soon be getting a bunch of new features, including one that will state when users are currently online. The new features will even help users follow Twitter conversation threads easily.
Twitter wants to be more conversational
In an attempt to be more conversational, the two new features to be rolled out are called reply threading and presence.
Reply threading shows responses as nested, indented tweets, similar to those replies on Facebook or Reddit. Some replies are color-coded. “At the moment we have purple indicating OT (original Tweeter!) and blue indicating ‘you,'” wrote Sara Haider, the company’s head of product, CNET reported.
The presence feature determines whether a user is offline or online. If a user is online, your profile picture will show a green circle around it. Since this is at a testing phase, it cannot be said whether the feature can be disabled. By introducing such features, it seems that Twitter is taking the Facebook route. It hasn’t been confirmed whether Twitter plans to bring a chat tab separately, but it has already redesigned Direct Message and divided it into Inbox and Requests, which is similar to what Facebook has done.
How have users responded
Users on Twitter do not seem to be very keen on the new features. A Twitter user by the name @Staci D Kramer tweeted, “Not a fan of presence in this kind of space so would prefer opt-in if it happens. The reply threading looks promising and could be a big improvement as long as there’s still a way to read a thread without interruption,” the Indian Express reported.
Another user Charles Arthur said, “Knowing when someone is online will have much bigger negative effects than positive ones. Pile-ons, targeted attacks, all that sort of stuff. Twitter works best because it’s asynchronous. It’s not your ‘friends’ like Messenger,” Cnet reported.
What could be the risks?
Considering how open-ended a platform like Twitter is, it can be said that the presence feature might make a lot of people uncomfortable. The feature makes it easier for users to engage with you on Twitter – that would give trolls a free reign, and they would be able to abuse anyone as long as Twitter shows that the person is online.
However, Twitter’s head of product, Sara Haider, said that she “would definitely want you to have full control over sharing your presence.” Thus it can be said that a “disable” button might be on its way.
Twitter’s recent features
Twitter launched a “Bookmark” feature that allows you to save tweets privately. A desire to save content for later reading was something that users had requested for due to the rapid circulation of news and information via Twitter. Shortage of time or a lack of privacy meant that users would be unable to read in the moment.
However, after the feature was introduced, users only had to click on a new “share” icon to the right of the Favorite (heart) button. From there, they would have the option to share the tweet in several ways – by bookmarking it, DM’ing it, or via other methods.
In April 2018, Twitter announced that it would be introducing a new feature that groups multiple tweets linking to the same news story. The news-link will be pushed forward to your timeline and will appear as a small preview. The preview will show the people that have shared it, along with their tweets, grouped below.
Twitter’s most talked-about feature was expanded in November 2017, when it decided to increase its character count to 280 characters. After initially rolling out the increased character count to only some users in September 2017, Twitter made it official in November that all users could now tweet in 280 characters. The decision raised a lot of eyebrows as users were of the opinion that such a feature would kill Twitter’s brevity.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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