Twitter replies have traditionally acted like public spaces. Once a tweet is out there, pretty much anyone can reply to it. In some cases, that makes for good discussion. In others, it can lead to disaster, abuse, and harassment. Twitter's looking to change that by giving you more control over who can reply to tweets.
The feature, announced in January 2020, is called "Conversation participants." Since then, it has changed a bit. In Twitter's blog post on the subject, as well as in a conversations help page, the company doesn't name the option outright. More importantly, however, is that it originally contained four different reply options, and now we're looking at three:
- Everyone: Any Twitter user can reply to your tweet. This is the default option. If your tweets are protected, only people who follow you will be able to respond as usual, so that doesn't change.
- People you follow: Only people you follow or mention in the tweet can reply.
- Only people you mention: Only people you specify in the tweet can reply.
Twitter originally included a "Statement" option, which would allow no one to reply to the tweet, as in you would be making a statement and not a conversation. It could make a comeback, however, as the entire feature is still being tested.
As for the testing, Twitter originally pushed the participants feature out to a small group of Android, iOS, and web app users only. As of Aug. 6, however, the feature is now available to all iOS users. If you don't see the feature on Android or on your web app, it just means you haven't received the update yet.
If you have the feature, using it is a piece of cake. Just begin a new tweet, then tap "Everyone can reply" by the globe icon, the default option. Next, tap one of the three options, as discussed earlier.
Once you do, you'll see "Everyone can reply" replaced by the name and icon of the option of your choice. Now, just tap "Tweet," and only the people who match the option's description will be able to reply. You can't change your mind after publishing the tweet, so make sure to choose wisely, or else you'll end up having to delete the tweet altogether.
Anyone who can reply to your tweet will be able to do so without a problem. However, if they can't, they'll see the reply button greyed out, as you can see below.
It's important to note that while you can limit who can reply to your tweet, the feature doesn't stop people from retweeting it, retweeting it with a comment, or voting on polls. To prevent people from doing that, you'll need to set your account to private. However, any replies on the tweet, as well as retweets, will inherit the participation options you chose.
If you don't want to go through the trouble of cutting your account off from the rest of the Twitter world, this feature is a nice compromise.
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