Twitter’s new “don’t @ me” option is sending the messaging service into an existential crisis: What is a public social media site without a little back-and-forth?
On Wednesday, Twitter announced it would give users the power to silence any replies on individual tweets. The feature was called “don’t @ me,” named after the playful phrase people often use when sharing a provocative thought—“don’t at me.”
Now, Twitter users can make that official by selecting a setting to limit replies to a tweet, either to no one, only followers, or only people mentioned in the tweet. The feature is currently being tested with a limited number users, the company said.
Not surprisingly, the new feature set off plenty of replies on Twitter, with some people welcoming the control and others wondering if it defeats the purpose of the public platform.
Some people tweeted that it would stymie open conversation if any user could prevent others from responding. Limiting replies could turn Twitter into a more private affair, some people worry. One of the benefits of Twitter is that every user has the same opportunity to speak, regardless of follower count or status.