Is Twitter preparing to let us “dislike” content on its platform? Not exactly.
Yesterday, a Twitter beta user noticed that the standard menu below tweets—which normally includes comment, retweet, like, and bookmark icons—was also now displaying a thumbs down option. “HOLY SH—- Twitter has added a dislike button!!!” wrote Nicholas Iglehart.
The tweet took off—so much so that Twitter weighed in less than an hour after it was posted. The company explained that the downvote option was an experiment to “help us better understand the types of replies you find relevant in a conversation.”
Twitter later took to its @TwitterSupport feed to explain that “Your downvotes aren’t public, while your upvotes will be shown as likes.” It then stressed that “this is not a dislike button” and said that votes, up or down, won’t change the order of replies.
Still, an in-app note from Twitter, posted by Iglehart, says “We’re testing dislikes on replies.”
Whatever you call it, the potential for a dislike button prompted concern from users about harassment. A coordinated campaign to dislike a selfie, news about a new project, or general musing on life is unlikely to help the internet discourse. Of course, you don’t need a dislike button to make disparaging comments on Twitter; just hit that reply or quote-tweet button.
Last year, Twitter added the ability for users to choose who can reply to their tweets when they compose a message (everyone, people you follow, only people you mention). More recently, it updated that option with the ability to retroactively change reply settings.
Up or down votes have long been a staple on the web; you can still see them on sites like Reddit and Pandora. And in 2017, Netflix replaced its five-star ratings system with a thumbs up or down (in part because that five-star system allowed people to organize coordinated review-bombs.)