For once, Twitter is considering a host of changes that users might actually embrace — assuming they ever get the chance.
The social media company confirmed to Mashable on Thursday that it intends to test a host of new privacy features beginning as soon as next week. First reported by Bloomberg, the broad range of tweaks have the potential to rework fundamental aspects of what it’s meant — at least up until now — to have a Twitter account.
“We understand that there’s no one size fits all approach to privacy, so we’re excited to roll out more features and tools to empower people on Twitter to customize their experience,” explained a Twitter spokesperson over email.
Those new features, as reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by a Twitter spokesperson, are wide-ranging and address long-held gripes about the platform. Importantly, not all of them may end up being incorporated into Twitter. Even so, they suggest that when it comes to user privacy the company is at least aware that more needs to be done (like, ahem, encrypting direct messages end-to-end, which as far as we know Twitter is not officially considering).
For starters, the teased features include the ability to automatically hide old tweets after a predetermined amount of time. This isn’t the same as having tweets auto-delete, but is a step in the right direction. Another potential feature is the power to remove specific followers (which users do now by blocking and then immediately unblocking a follower’s account). Yet another is the opportunity to make your likes visible to only certain subsets of users — your followers, everyone, or other as-of-yet undefined groups.
“Our focus on social privacy is inspired by feedback we received through a series of global research studies we conducted to better understand people’s perceptions of and needs for privacy around the globe,” added the spokesperson.
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Twitter sadly would not specify which of the above will be tested next week, or where the tests will run.
When it actually does launch these privacy tests, it will be important to see if Twitter puts real resources behind them — or if Thursday’s announcement is more of a trial balloon meant to gauge the public’s appetite for more granular privacy controls.
Because great ideas are one thing, but when it comes to online privacy — as is so often the case — it’s the followthrough that counts.