8th April 2022
Twitter is reportedly testing a number of new features that address safety issues that have plagued the platform. The reports follow Elon Musk becoming Twitter’s biggest shareholder earlier this week.
The most debated feature is the introduction of the ‘edit button’, with which users could fix errors to a tweet once it has been posted without losing replies, likes or retweets. Although it appears this function was already in the works, Elon Musk shared a poll with his 81million followers this week with 73.6% voting in favour of the feature. Whilst there is great demand for this feature by users, there is concern about misuse of the edit button and the altering of public conversation once available.
Twitter has also changed the way it handles embedded tweets. Presently, a deleted tweet embedded on a web page still displays the content of the tweet. The new update would see the text being deleted from the embedded tweet. The new update has caused much annoyance amongst developers for the way it is being implemented and has left publishers worrying about ‘holes’ in website content.
Twitter users will also soon be allowed to ‘unmention’ themselves in a new feature being tested on the web platform. “Unmentioning” allows users to remove themselves from conversations they don’t want to be a part of, saving themselves from unwanted harassment. By “unmentioning” yourself a user’s handle will be greyed out indicating to others that they have left the conversation. Users cannot be tagged back into the conversation and notifications will be turned off for that specific post. This is an extension of the work that Twitter has been carrying out with testing of ‘Safety Mode’ – an anti- abuse feature enabled by the user that has been in testing since September last year.
Finally, this week Twitter rolled out a much-improved alt text accessibility feature globally. While this feature has been available to use since 2016, allowing users to add descriptions to images to aid speech-to-text programs and screen readers, it was hard to know if it was reaching the people who needed it most. The update includes an “ALT” badge in the corner of the image and exposed image descriptions. Tweeters can hover over the badge which produces a pop up containing the user-generated image description.
This week Elon Musk became Twitter’s largest shareholder with his 9.2% stake in the company worth around $3bn. There is a lot of speculation about what this means for the future of Twitter, especially with Musk’s celebrity status and his known focus on innovation. The testing of new features, which are likely to have been in development prior to Musk upping his stake, only adds fuel to that fire. Twitter will be hoping that the tweaks it has made to its platform solve some of the accessibility and safety issues that it has been trying to address for some time.