With social media becoming a pervasive part of life these days, the way we engage with content has necessitated evolution as a like or share does not provide the nuance that many crave. It is likely why Twitter is testing out a new feature with selected users on iOS devices that adds the ability to upvote or downvote a tweet.
The company’s Support account shared the news yesterday, noting that it wants to “understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them.”
As such, for now this test is more about gathering data, so it may or may not become a fully fledged feature down the line, depending on what is gathered.
Working in a very similar way to Reddit, the ability to upvote or downvote tweets could prove interesting, but like anything on social media, can quickly become subverted. To that end campaigns and coordination to downvotes opinions around a divisive topic or trend could very easily happen.
It is for this reason that Twitter is careful to stress that votes will not impact where a reply appears in a conversation. They also explain that downvotes should not be viewed as a dislike button, with the amount of downvotes on a message only visible to the person who posted the original tweet or reply.
Some of you on iOS may see different options to up or down vote on replies. We're testing this to understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them.
Your downvotes aren’t public, while your upvotes will be shown as likes. pic.twitter.com/hrBfrKQdcY
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 21, 2021
Whether such a feature would indeed offer Twitter users the nuance they have been craving remains to be seen, but this test is the latest in a series of features that the social media platform has been working on of late, such as setting parameters on who can reply to tweets.
As such, it looks like Twitter is trying to give its users more control over who can engage with conversations, which also brings up another argument over free speech.
Either way, with each new feature that is rolled out, Twitter will need to justify how it does not limit opinions and helps to amplify exposure.
Whether or not this test will be spread to Android users down the line, is unknown for now.