Twitter began testing new conversation settings that enable people to determine who can reply to their tweets: everyone, only people they follow or only people they mention in that tweet.
The social network said a limited group of people will be involved in the test, across Android, iOS and the web.
Tweets set for replies by only followers or only people mentioned will be labeled as such, with the reply icon grayed out to alert people that they are not permitted to reply.
The social network first detailed this test at CES in January with a fourth option of not allowing replies at all.
The version that was shown in January also had labels for the settings determining who can reply to tweets: Global, meaning anyone on Twitter; Group, limiting replies to people followed or mentioned by the tweeting account; Panel, whereby only people mentioned in the tweet can reply; and Statement, which prohibits all replies.
The labels have since been scrapped, and users can opt to keep their tweets reply-free by selecting only people mentioned the tweet, and then not mentioning other users.
The social network said that other than the obvious purpose of preventing replies by users who abuse the feature, the new settings can be used to allow the original tweeter to conduct fireside chats, interviews and other kinds of invitation-only conversations with small groups or individual people.
Director of product management Suzanne Xie said in a blog post, “Being able to participate and understand what’s happening is key for useful public conversation. So, we’re exploring how we can improve these settings to give people more opportunities to weigh in while still giving people control over the conversations they start. In addition to this, we’re making it easier to read all conversations around a tweet with a new layout for replies and more accessible retweets with comments.”
She added, “One thing we know for sure is that you’ll be creative with this update. Maybe you’ll host a debate on the benefits of pineapple on pizza (#TeamPineapple) with fellow pizza pals, or invite a panel of distinguished guests for a fireside chat. You could even play a game of tic-tac-toe for people to follow along without messing up your moves. We’re excited to see what you do.”