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Twitter’s ‘soft block’ feature is for users who need some space from annoying followers

For now, Twitter users will need to access the web version to use this feature which was first rolled out in testing last month.

Twitter

Twitter users will now be able to remove a follower from their account without having to block them properly, the company announced in a tweetThis feature can be used by visiting the web version of Twitter and clicking on the three-dot menu that appears next to a follower after opening the followers’ list in the profile section.

The people behind the accounts will not be notified of the action once someone soft blocks them. These soft-blocked followers will still be able to see tweets and avail the direct message option. 

The social media platform started testing the ‘soft block’ functionality last month. In the past, Twitter users would have to block unwanted followers and promptly remove them from the follower list; Now, Twitter has streamlined this process with its own ‘remove this follower’ option. It also allows users more control over their list of followers. 

Are there any riders? 

The feature has not been introduced on Twitter’s mobile version or its app but it is only a matter of time before it is introduced there. For now, they will need to access the web version to use this feature. 

Unwanted followers who have been removed do have the option of re-following the person who soft-blocked them. One would have to properly block the users to hide their timeline permanently or make their profile private. 

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Twitter’s attempts at countering abuse and hate

Filter & Limit: Twitter had earlier revealed that it was working on developing a new feature that would prevent unwanted, abusive comments to your tweets. “We’re looking into new tools called ‘Filter’ and ‘Limit’ that might help you keep potentially hazardous content — and those who could generate it — away from your answers,” Twitter Senior Product Designer Paula Barcante said in a tweet.

Safety Mode: It also introduced a Safety Mode that “temporarily blocks accounts for seven days for using potentially harmful language — such as insults or hateful remarks — or sending repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions,” the social media service wrote on its blog.

“When the feature is turned on in your Settings, our systems will assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the Tweet’s content and the relationship between the Tweet author and replier. Our technology takes existing relationships into account, so accounts you follow or frequently interact with will not be autoblocked,” the company explained. 

Hateful replies: Twitter announced last year that it was giving users a second chance before they tweet in order to address rampant harassment. The new feature was limited to replies and users using “harmful” language saw a prompt advising them to self-edit before posting a reply. It must be noted that Twitter’s early tests ran into some problems because its algorithms sometimes struggled to understand the nuance that occurs in many conversations, TechCrunch reported then.

Bad Vibes: “Ever want to know the vibe of a conversation before you join in? We’re testing prompts on Android and iOS that give you a heads up if the convo you’re about to enter could get heated or intense,” read a tweet by Twitter announcing that the company was exploring labels to let users know when they are entering a toxic conversation. The platform claims the move will foster “healthy conversation” but it is unclear what kind of parameters will determine the vibe of a conversation.

A rundown of Twitter’s features in the last two years

Twitter has added or is considering the following new features to its platform:

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  • Communities: Twitter said it is testing Communities, a feature similar to Facebook Groups and Reddit subreddits that lets users find and tweet to people with similar interests.
  • Tips: Users will now be able to support their favourite profiles on Twitter by tipping them using several payment options including cryptocurrencies, the company announced in a blog. Twitter will charge no commission as per the blog.
  • Good bots: Automated accounts on Twitter will carry a label that lets users know they are bots, the microblogging site announced in a tweet. The company said that it will offer the label, in a test run first, to over 500 developer accounts, TechCrunch reported. The microblogging service did not reveal the duration of the test run but The Verge added that the feature will be available to all developers by the end of this year.
  • Ticketed Spaces: Handpicked users will be able to create paid gatherings on Twitter’s audio chat room feature, Spaces. The company opened up applications for content monetisation on Spaces in June. It is experimenting with the feature on iOS for now but hopes to bring it to all users soon.
  • Super Follow: The company launched its paid subscription feature called ‘Super Follow’ last month. It said that the feature will at present only be available to iOS users in the US and Canada, although it will expand to iOS, Android, and web users worldwide over time.
  • Emoji reactions for tweets: The feature will provide emoji reactions for tweets that go beyond a “Like” reaction. The feature will initially be available to users in Turkey.
  • Full-width photos and videos: It is testing edge-to-edge media in tweets on iOS to give users a borderless view for photos and videos on their timelines.
  • Labels for misleading tweets: The platform rolled out a feature in the United States, South Korea, and Australia, where users will be able to flag tweets that come across as misleading in August 2021. It introduced labels such as manipulated media and synthetic media first in February 2020.
  • Birdwatch: Twitter tested a tool called “Birdwatch” in January this year which lets users identify the information they believe is false or misleading. The tool allows users to write notes about tweets they consider untrue or that may contain misinformation.

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