Attention can be a blessing and a curse, especially on Twitter.
The social media platform announced a new feature Wednesday seemingly designed to mitigate the sometimes troubling and often all-encompassing effects of going viral. Dubbed Safety Mode, the setting allows Twitter users who suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted attention the chance to chill things out — even if just for a bit.
“Safety Mode is a feature that temporarily blocks accounts for seven days for using potentially harmful language — such as insults or hateful remarks — or sending repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions,” explains Jarrod Doherty, a senior product manager at Twitter, in a blog post.
Notably, the feature isn’t available to everyone yet. According to Doherty, as of Sept. 1, only a “small feedback group” using iOS, Android, and Twitter.com will have the option to enable Safety Mode.
Once that feedback group starts turning it on, Safety Mode will begin proactively blocking accounts at Twitter’s discretion.
“Authors of Tweets found by our technology to be harmful or uninvited will be autoblocked, meaning they’ll temporarily be unable to follow your account, see your Tweets, or send you Direct Messages,” continues Doherty.
Various Twitter account features.
Twitter’s Safety Mode.
Of course, there’s always the chance that the algorithm powering this feature will be too enthusiastic in its blocking, leading to false positives and claims of shadow banning. Or, even worse, that it will disproportionately affect certain types of accounts over others.
Doherty admits as much, writing that “we won’t always get this right and may make mistakes[.]”
As such, Twitter intends to “observe how Safety Mode is working and incorporate improvements and adjustments before bringing it to everyone on Twitter.”
We imagine that everyone will want it, kinks ironed out or no.
Twitter sees both daily main characters piled on for increasingly absurd takes, and regular people finding momentary fame for bon mots of pure joy. Sometimes, that attention is very much desired. Other times, not so much.
Whether you’re a medical expert desperately trying to share much-needed vaccine information, or a scientist explaining the devastating effects of climate change, a well-functioning Safety Mode promises a world with less online abuse.
It sounds nice.