Social media can be thought of as an ant colony: if you want to introduce a new factor in how people can or can’t communicate with each other, you should probably test it out with a sequestered region before introducing it to the whole place. Such was the case as Twitter began testing hidden replies in Canada beginning in July. Today, it is expanding that test to Japan and the United States.

So, what are the dynamics of hiding replies? Well, those who are sorting replies to a tweet they sent out can select one they don’t particularly like for their own ethical or moral reasons and hide it from the public’s immediate view. If someone else wants to see the tweets that the thread initiator hid from the reply stream, they can tap an icon to the far right of the original tweet. An author can also view a hidden reply and unhide it.

One important change from the Canadian test period is the additional prompt for those hiding a tweet about blocking the person who wrote the reply.

Twitter says that people used the hide feature much like profile muting, though in a limited, targeted way. More than a quarter of people who have had their tweets hidden told the company that they would reconsider how they tweeted in the future.

Expect more tweaks as time flows on.

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