Last night, Twitter announced it would be rolling out a new feature that will let users define who can see their tweets.
While some people may see it as a good idea, others are already raging about the idea of limiting who can see what.
Reactions were mixed across Twitter, with some users saying they welcome the announcement and others miffed by the change, citing how limiting users' speech can limit their First Amendment rights.
“We’re now giving people the option to limit who can see their tweets by choosing to only share publicly with followers,” the company announced.
We’re now giving people the option to limit who can see their tweets by choosing to only share publicly with followers. You can learn more: pic.twitter.com/MdzrFgSQm5 — Twitter () January 8, 2019
It is unclear how Twitter's new feature will be implemented. The announcement could mean that if you decide to have a famous person's tweets viewable by everyone, that person's followers may not be able to see anything past a subset of tweets from you, or vice versa.
“This is a tricky one,” said Josh Bernoff, a senior analyst for Forrester Research. “We’re not accustomed to people’s tweets being distributed in a way we don’t know. If you have a prominent political figure tweeting from your account and only their followers can see it, that could be very effective.”
Other users will clearly find it difficult to accept.
While limiting who can see your Tweets will give you control over the dissemination of your tweets, it will also make it extremely easy for someone to abuse that control and target other users.
The ability to limit the distribution of someone else’s tweet may be a double-edged sword.
Ben Smith, a senior editor at BuzzFeed, said on Twitter that Twitter’s move to limit what people can see “gives them a modicum of common sense but at the same time makes Twitter once again a place where haters feel like they can harass everyone.”
Austin Hughes, a developer who contributes to The Lost Palace, said Twitter was moving too fast with the new feature. “Every time a site does this, they use it as a first step towards people using it for bullying,” he tweeted.
Way too many users are clearly dissatisfied with Twitter’s changes, particularly if their dislike translates into a revolt against the service.
Regardless of your thoughts, the new feature will most certainly have a widespread effect, whether you like it or not.