By Natalie Mojica
Twitter’s new ‘downvote’ feature, originally announced in late July, officially launched for users worldwide on Feb. 3.
As early as Feb. 4, select American Twitter users noticed a new addition to their timeline: a small arrow pointing downwards was right next to the ‘like’ button. Users questioned whether ‘downvotes’ would be public, if the tweet’s author would be notified, and more. While the company assured users that all downvotes would be private, Twitter will use this new measure to curate users’ timelines. As soon as a user decides to downvote something, Twitter will show fewer tweets similar to the one downvoted.
“A majority of our users shared that the reason they clicked the down arrow was either that the reply was perceived as offensive, or because they perceived it as not relevant, or both… people who have tested downvoting agree it improves the quality of conversations on Twitter,” Twitter’s safety team stated.
Some Twitter users, like Zach Bowders, are not supportive of the changes.
“It rubbed me the wrong way in a lot of ways,” Bowders said. “We’re continuing to narrow the perspective of the world that we see. We’re really just creating a false narrative.”
Other users don’t like that the downvote option is only for tweets, limiting its use for consumers. There are also concerns that this new feature will be used to silence ostracized groups even further by allowing the majority’s voice to limit exposure on a tweet.
Twitter isn’t the first social media platform to have a downvote or dislike button. YouTube and Reddit have long used downvotes. The unique aspect of Twitter’s downvote comes from its privacy component. Reddit shows’ likes’ and ‘dislikes,’ and YouTube only recently made dislikes private to audiences in 2021 (though creators can still see dislikes on their videos.)
This also isn’t the only new feature in the development stage for the popular social media platform. On Feb. 2, Twitter announced a new option to add one-time warnings to photos and videos users think to contain sensitive content. Currently, this option is available to all global users on web and Android. Twitter will slowly roll out the feature for iOS devices.