Twitter Testing a Downvote Button as a Limited Feedback Experiment

  • Twitter will offer a limited number of iOS users a downvote option as a feedback experiment.
  • Downvotes won’t be public, won’t be shown to the post author, and won’t change the order of the replies.
  • Whether or not we’ll see this rolling out to all users remains a question, but it’s doubtful.

Dislike and downvote buttons are controversial for social media platforms because they create a negative feeling for posters and can actually decrease interaction and engagement rates. This is why historically, we’ve seen it being removed from many platforms that had it initially, while many others didn’t add one in the first place. According to the latest reports, though, Twitter is testing a dislike button for replies on its beta program, so depending on how that goes, we may see it rolling out on the popular micro-blogging networking service.

But these dislikes aren’t going to be introduced in a way that threatens to risk people’s mental serenity in the platform, as they will actually be hidden from the author. What they’re meant to do is to serve as feedback to Twitter, helping its algorithms understand what people think about a particular post, what is the wrong match or recommendation to a particular user, and generally help the platform improve each user’s personalized experience on the site.

What the Twitter community thinks about this, in general, is that it would harm diverse opinions within one’s sphere, it would drive to click-anxiety (not daring to feed the algorithm with anything fearing changes), and eventually, it would amplify the “echo-chamber” effect on the platform. For a social media space where people exchange information, argue, and oftentimes disagree, removing all that would be an uninspiring development.

Twitter has clarified that this is just a test for research right now, so nothing is certain yet. Downvoting or upvoting (counts as like) won’t change the order of replies, and dislikes will remain hidden from the public anyway. The only issue with the new system is people not understanding that this is an algorithm-aid experiment and not an expression of dislike of a particular post, leading to many using the downvoting button as such.

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