Twitter is expanding the range of reactions to tweets with the option to downvote. The company has rolled the test to a global audience.
Last year, the micro-blogging site released the feature in limited beta but is now inviting more people to use it. Twitter web users will see the feature first, but it will soon come to Android and iOS users.
You can’t see the total number of downvotes yet, like you can with a retweet, quote, and like. Other sites like Reddit have a downvote feature and let users see the number of ‘dislikes’ a post has earned.
According to Twitter, people so far have been using the feature for the content they don’t care for or consider offensive. It said, “This experiment also revealed that downvoting is the most frequently used way for people to flag content they don’t want to see.”
It also said, “We are still in the learning stage of this experiment and are looking to gain a better understanding of how Reply Downvoting could help us better surface the most relevant content for people on Twitter in the future.”
Twitter also says the feature does not change the order of displayed replies but is used internally for research.
It is likely that people are using the downvote instead of the muting option or flagging as spam, which is far more difficult to locate in the menu.
Twitter claims people who have used the new feature agree it has positively affected the quality of conversations on its platform. This implies downvoting may become a permanent feature on Twitter posts.
However, features like downvoting and disliking can be misused on social media platforms. They are possible weapons for targeted harassment and silencing opposing opinions or marginalized groups. YouTube had such a system but decided to make the downvote count private to prevent organized harassment of its creators. Facebook also tested the feature but never implemented it. Even the emoji-based reactions that Facebook added in 2016 have been observed to contribute to the toxicity on the platform.