Twitter is testing out a new dislike feature for iOS users, although the number of dislikes will not show up on a tweet. Twitter has also claimed it is a downvote, not a dislike button.
The announcement about the dislike button was made by Twitter via the official Support account on Wednesday. “Some of you on iOS may see different options to up or down vote on replies,” the tweet read. “We’re testing this to understand the types of replies you find relevant in a [conversation], so we can work on ways to show more of them.”
The accompanying photo included a number of variants being tested, including replacing the current heart-shaped like button with a thumbs up and an up arrow, and then including a complementary down arrow or dislike button respectively, and another version where the current like button stayed the same, but a downvote button was also included.
Some of you on iOS may see different options to up or down vote on replies. We’re testing this to understand the types of replies you find relevant in a convo, so we can work on ways to show more of them.
Your downvotes aren’t public, while your upvotes will be shown as likes. pic.twitter.com/hrBfrKQdcY
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 21, 2021
From the language included in the tweet, it suggests that Twitter would be using the number of dislikes or downvotes to further filter out replies – Twitter currently hides some tweets, even those with innocuous language, behind a “see more” filter. However, in a reply, Twitter claimed that votes would not change the order of replies. They also claimed that it was not a “dislike” button, although it is not exactly clear how that could be the case if they included the dislike design.
Twitter also noted that the downvotes or dislikes would not be public, and would be only visible to the users who took the action. If this is the case, it is even more confusing as to why Twitter would include such a button in the first place, as it would be rendered pointless if it did not affect either the order of replies or show the amount of dislikes.
The first instance of a Twitter employee declaring that they were working on a downvote or dislike feature was from November last year, when Kayvon Beykpour, the product lead at Twitter, responded to a critique of Twitter’s developmental priorities from Jackie Singh, a cybersecurity expert for the Biden campaign, saying that they were exploring it. The dislike button request from Singh came along with demands for Twitter to remove “disinformation” and improve “harassment and reporting” features.
#1, 2 and 4 are literally our top priority (making the public conversation on Twitter) and has been for years. We’ve made a lot of progress but still lots to do. We do feel it’s important to solve other problems too! As for #3, this is something we’re exploring.
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) November 17, 2020
Twitter’s announcement of a dislike button that would not show numerical data beside it comes as YouTube, a fellow Big Tech organisation, was caught scrubbing dislikes from the White House’s channel, despite later claiming that these were “spam” dislikes. Videos from the White House have received an overwhelming amount of dislikes despite this.