23 Feb Downvote dilemma
Twitter has teased about adding a downvote feature for years, after originally launching a test button in July 2021. Now, the social media giant appears to be serious about this move as it announced in a tweet that this feature will be rolled out globally. With Twitter renowned for spreading news, information, and opinions quickly, this new feature could have an impact on both the social media platform and its users.
What is deserving of a downvote?
Currently, downvoting is only available on replies and is not public – with Twitter claiming the button will “help inform us of the content people want to see”.
We’ve been testing how we can surface the most relevant replies within Tweets with the use of downvoting on replies. As we’re expanding the experiment to a global audience, we want to share a little about what we have learned thus far!
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 3, 2022
Twitter has come under heavy scrutiny for the rapid spread of misinformation being shared on its platform – most recently with bots spreading fake news about the Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022. It is therefore no surprise the platform is eager to determine which tweets are valuable or harmful. Its downvote button follows in the footsteps of its misinformation reporting feature being expanded to global markets to help tackle the rise in number of users encountering misleading tweets and replies.
Will this feature be used as intended?
As with all social media platforms, trolls lurk – so what is to stop users from downvoting every reply they come across, regardless of its content?
Twitter users are having this exact thought:
This Reddit-style of upvote and downvote – like and dislike – is risky for Twitter and could be seen as regressing against the continued campaign for improved mental health support for users on social media. We all recognise that social media can be a negative environment – this is why streaming giant YouTube removed the public display of dislikes in late 2021 to curb harassment against creators.
I believe downvoting will help to tackle the spread of misinformation on Twitter but stops need to be put in place to prevent this feature being abused to negatively affect someone’s experience on the platform.