On Tuesday, Twitter announced that it was testing a new feature with iOS users. If a tweet features offensive words or phrases, Twitter will surface a message evoking self-doubt with the option to change the tweet before you hit send. The test seems to focus on user safety rather than giving people control over their posts beyond deletion.
A bullying and hate speech speedbump — This new feature is remarkably similar to one Instagram rolled out last year to comments before expanding it to posts in December. While the pop-ups might deter a “meaningful minority” of the population or heat of the moment posts, these safety measures are unlikely to deter those with ideological or psychological predilections for harmful speech. In an interview with Reuters, Sunita Saligram, Twitter’s global head of site policy for trust and safety, shared that the feature was focused on catching one-off offenders.
Given the generally inflammatory nature of almost any conversation on Twitter these days, however, the feature could be a welcome addition. Outside of the realms of hate speech and bullying, tonal misunderstandings often fuel arguments among those with aligned values.
More than anything, the feature could make more people aware of Twitter’s updated policies surrounding “dehumanizing” speech. By policing themselves, users could potentially free Twitter up to go after the worst actors on its platform. Just kidding; that’ll never happen.