Twitter is exploring an option that would allow voting against replies to tweets, so that only the most interesting reactions appear at the top. But the tool, interesting on paper, could give rise to inadequate practices.
In the near future, Twitter may be able to classify responses under a post other than chronological order. The American company is indeed carrying out a test which organizes the responses on the basis of their success. This popularity would then be defined according to the number of unfavorable votes received or not. The less we have, the higher we appear in the list of responses.
The existence of the experiment was notably spotted on October 12 on Twitter by Michael Donohoe, who shared a screenshot in the wake. We see a new small icon with an arrow pointing downwards, in a circle, as well as a window that explains the approach of the social network. It is specified that the test is here neither visible by the account which will receive the unfavorable vote, nor made public elsewhere.
Ooooh … pic.twitter.com/qTwRTZRBUF
– Michael Donohoe (@donohoe) October 12, 2021
Currently, the chronological order of replies to a tweet can be changed a bit if the person who wrote the very first post that elicits a reaction responds in turn with a reply. If, for example, we write a message with the Numerama account, the tweets that we send to the people replying will have the effect of moving them to the top of the list.
The extent of the experiment conducted by Twitter is unknown. We also do not know if this feature will ever come out and in this form – we can imagine that changes will be made according to the feedback obtained through this test. One of the issues is whether it might be a good idea to post the number of negative votes a response has received, which can be offensive.
Digg and Reddit, precursors of the “downvote”
The mechanics that Twitter explores is reminiscent of what Digg, a recommendation site, offered in its time. Internet users shared all kinds of links and could vote for the ones they liked the most. Thus, a hierarchy of content ended up taking place. On paper, this “collective intelligence” made it possible, by consensus, to put forward what seemed most important.
We find this same approach on Reddit, via specialized sub-forums (the site is made up of a myriad of thematic sub-sections, for example on France, cats or Bitcoin). Internet users can vote for or against the links that others share and thus one can see the trends of the sub-forum over a given period – the last 24 hours, a week, a month, etc.
On Digg and Reddit, this system makes it possible in principle to rule out anything that is not considered worthy of interest, by betting on virtuous cooperation between Internet users. On a social network like Twitter, could this work? The question is valid. If with Reddit, we can assume that all the people of the same sub-forum share a common interest, Twitter appears much more open.
To put it another way, people with very different points of view are likely to intersect and, instead of favoring answers that have interest, might want to just take down opinions that do not match their point of view. By pulling the rope, one could even imagine raids against certain opinions expressed to bury them as far as possible in a thread of answers.