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.
It's called "Conversation participants," first announced during a CES event on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The feature will be available every time you compose a tweet, so you can choose the proper audience for the tweet at hand. Twitter is currently working on four options for conversation participants:
- Global: Any Twitter user can reply to your tweet.
- Group: Only people you follow or mention in the tweet can reply.
- Panel: Only people you mention in the tweet can reply.
- Statement: No Twitter users can reply to your tweet.
While Twitter doesn't specify, we believe changing the participant option is as easy as tapping the current one highlighted above the menu bar. On the pop-up menu, choose the option that suits your tweet best. The conversation participant highlight should then reflect your updated choice.
Based on the images sourced from Twitter, we see that tweets with restrictive participant options will plainly state that option in the tweet. It's not clear whether a message appears only to those who can reply to the tweet or just to people who can't. If you're allowed to reply, you'll be able to do so normally, but if you can't, the reply button will be grayed out.
Additionally, it appears you can reply to replies to a tweet you aren't allowed to reply to. Sound confusing? Look at the second image below. You can't reply to the initial tweet (see the gray reply button), but you can reply to both replies underneath. Twitter doesn't yet specify whether replies are eligible for conversation participant options, so your replies may still be fair game for anyone on the site.
Don't fire up Twitter to test out this feature just yet — Twitter says it's taking the first quarter of 2020 to test it in beta, with an anticipated release sometime later this year.