Twitter’s developing yet another audience control option for your tweets, with a new toggle that would enable you to either stop people from mentioning your @handle completely, or limit mentions to only those who you follow in the app.
As you can see in this image, posted by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, the new option, which Twitter’s currently experimenting with, would give you more control over how people can interact with your tweets.
At the top, there’s an ‘Allow Others to Mention you’ toggle, which would stop people from referencing your @handle entirely.
That, presumably, would just deactivate any mention of your handle, much like Twitter’s recently launched ‘Unmention’ option, which lets you leave Twitter chats that you no longer want to be a part of.
As you can see in this example, if you choose to leave a conversation through this option, your handle link is then deactivated within that thread. People can still mention your handle after that, but it won’t link back to your profile, and you won’t be alerted to such.
Presumably, if you choose to stop others from mentioning you entirely via this new toggle, that would follow similar logic – you wouldn’t be able to stop people using your @handle in their tweets, but it would no longer be an active mention, as such.
In addition to this, there’s also a new option which would enable you to limit mentions to only those who you follow in the app.
Twitter’s rolled out a range of audience control tools for tweets over the past year and a bit, including unmention, as noted, along with restricted replies, Twitter Circles for private group chats, Safety Mode, which autoblocks spammy or abusive replies, and Communities for enclosed, topical discussions.
In combination, these elements could have a significant impact on the way that Twitter functions, moving away from its ‘global town square’ approach, and giving everyone a voice on topical discussions, to a more siloed set of diverse, but walled off, tweet chats.
Which could be a good thing. The reason that Twitter has added all of these elements is to help users avoid the negative impacts of public posting, with many people simply opting not to share their opinions in the app due to fear of being ‘canceled’ if they say the wrong thing.
Indeed, a Pew Research study published last year showed that around 25% of Twitter users in the US produce some 97% of all tweets.
That’s a lot of passive consumption of Twitter content, and a big part of that is likely, as noted, the fear of being called out for saying the wrong thing, with the public nature of the platform meaning that your bad takes can be quickly and broadly amplified for all to see.
By providing more control options, you reduce that concern, while they also give people more options to shut down spammers, creeps, trolls and anyone else who wants to provoke you in the app.
Which is good – users should have the option to dictate their own Twitter experience, and in some cases, you just don’t need to be entertaining the rubbish that people want to share.
Though there would also be concerns around public figures shutting down dissenting opinions, and using tools like these as a means to guide certain narratives amongst their audiences.
But given that most of these other tools have already been released, and they haven’t necessarily been used for negative purpose (for the most part), it seems like less of a concern than it once would have been, and as such, it probably makes sense for Twitter to provide even more control tools to assist.
Twitter hasn’t made any official announcement on the test, which is not public as yet, though one Twitter developer did confirm that it’s being investigated (before deleting the tweet).
I wonder how Elon Musk feels about audience controls, and how that aligns with his vision for the app?
Instagram Tests More BeReal-Like Elements as it Looks to Lean Into the Authentic Social Shift
Will the BeReal process of posting an image of whatever you might be doing at a specific moment of the day end up becoming a lasting social media trend, or will it fade out, like many viral shifts before it?
It feels, in some ways, like it’s already waning – though BeReal did win App of the Year on both the Apple and Google (‘Users Choice’ category) stores for 2022. So there’s that – and overall, there is also a sense that BeReal has showcased an underlying trend in social, that people have had enough of the airbrushed, edited, sculpted personas that people present in their every upload and comment online.
It all feels a bit staged, and BeReal eliminates that, in a creative way. But what’s next for BeReal, as an app? Is there anything more that can be done with that concept?
Is there anything that other apps can do with it – and is it worthy of further exploration?
Instagram’s certainly giving it a shot.
After trying out a very BeReal-esque feature called ‘Candid’ earlier this year, Instagram is now also developing some similar features, focused on different elements within the app.
First off, Instagram’s working on something called ‘Roll Call’ which would enable group chat members to request that all participants add a photo or video of themselves to the chat within 5 minutes.
As you can see in these screenshots, posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Roll Call is effectively a small-scale version of BeReal, within an enclosed group chat, as opposed to sending the request to all of your contacts.
Instagram’s also working on ‘Glimpse’ Stories, which works exactly like BeReal, in using the front and back cameras to show what you’re up to at any given time.
As you’ll note in both of these variations, they require participation, just like BeReal, with the images or videos posted only made visible to those who’ve also submitted their own contribution to the Roll Call/Glimpse.
Could that work, and become a more significant trend on IG, if indeed either feature is ever actually released?
I mean, maybe.
Again, BeReal has seen a massive surge in downloads this year, so there’s clearly interest in such functionality, and really, the BeReal process is more of a feature than a platform in itself, so it could also make more sense as a complementary element within Instagram or some other app, than as a separate app of its own.
But it also feels like a bit of a fad that people will tire of – an antidote to the artificiality that now dominates the main apps, but which doesn’t actually change them, or the way we use the more popular apps, as such.
Which is the real challenge. While there is clearly a desire for more genuine, honest communication within social apps, the big platforms already play such a significant role in our daily process that it’s going to be difficult to usurp them, while it’s also hard to resist the entertainment value of TikTok for distraction and engagement, veering away from social connection.
How do you make the mundane more interesting, and a more significant aspect, when it’s more of a curiosity, a fleeting interest to make you feel more connected, but not a longer-term engagement element within itself?
The unfortunate truth that all social apps have eventually shown us is that we’re all pretty boring. Most of us don’t lead amazing, glamorous lives worthy of constant documentation, which is what’s eventually led to more people portraying enhanced versions of their existence to glean more likes and interest from others in this constructed digital engagement sphere.
That’s then gone even further, into image editing and blatant distortions of reality, in all respects, which has then led people to question more of what they’re seeing, while on another front, friends and family sharing their political opinions has forced us to see sides to them that we never knew, and in many cases, didn’t really need to find out about.
Which is what’s then set the scene for an app like BeReal to come in, and show us, in a relatable, human way, that we’re actually much more closely aligned than these increasingly false or distorted depictions may suggest.
That feels like the seed of a new shift, a new way of approaching social media interaction – but thus far, that’s as far as we’ve got. There’s just not much else you can do to build on that concept, and lean into that trend.
Maybe it’ll spark the next industry shift, and maybe it’ll be Instagram or TikTok or some other established app that will crack the code and find the best way forward on this front (I’d argue that Snapchat’s focus on connection among friends is most closely aligned with this shift, as a general app approach).
But right now, it feels like a limited element, a glimmer of what could be in amongst the broader social media cacophony.
Instagram might make more of a push to see what happens, but it may need something more to evolve this into a bigger element.
Instagram Tests More BeReal-Like Elements as it Looks to Lean Into the Authentic Social Shift
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