Twitter begins testing ‘dislike’ button – but there’s a catch

Social media giant using test in bid to gather feedback about what replies are relevant

Twitter is experimenting with a number of options to give feedback on replies.

Twitter is experimenting with a number of options to give feedback on replies.

 

If you are using Twitter on an iOS device, you may have spotted a new addition to the mobile app – a small thumbs down under some posts.

Could it finally be? Has Twitter added a “dislike” button to its platform? Well, yes and no.

The new addition came with a small explanation: Twitter is indeed testing dislikes. The social platform has added a thumbs down alongside the “like” button. Twitter says the option to downvote posts is part of its effort to gather feedback from users about what replies are relevant.

“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,” Twitter said.

But, before you go looking for tweets to downvote, there is a catch – well, several. The option to “dislike” a post is only available on replies to tweets, rather than the original post. And it appears that not every user will see the same options.

The test is only being conducted on iOS, which excludes Android users. There is no guarantee that Twitter will make it a permanent feature either, so dislikes could disappear as quickly as they arrived.

While upvotes will show up as likes, giving posters positive feedback, dislikes will not. Downvotes won’t be publicly visible either; you will be able to see posts you have downvoted, but not anyone elses. The author of the disliked post won’t be notified that they’ve been given the thumbs down either.

That may well be a smart move, given that social media frequently fields crticism about creating a toxic environment and stifling debate. It is hard to see how visible downvotes would improve that reputation.

Exactly what Twitter does with the feedback is crucial. Concerns have already been raised that the system could be weaponised against already marginalised users, making them less visible on the platform.

Twitter needs to tread carefully. It wouldn’t be the first time that a feature has unintended consequences for a social media company – or its users.