Twitter is testing ‘upvotes’ and ‘downvotes’ — but it’s not exactly a ‘dislike’ button

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Twitter confirmed July 21, 2021, that it’s testing a feature that lets users “upvote” and “downvote” replies to tweets.

The test is running inside the company’s iOS app for select users.

According to the screenshots Twitter released, it appears there several icons being tested — an up and down arrow without the normal “like” heart, a version with the heart and a down arrow and a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icon.

Green is used for upvotes, while an orange shade appears to be used for downvotes (since the current heart appears in a red-pink).

It’s worth noting that Twitter says that “downvoting” a reply is not public but could help it better understand “replies you find relevant in a convo.” Upvotes, meanwhile, appear as public “likes” and included in the count of likes.

Some media outlets have reported that Twitter is “testing a ‘dislike button'” — an oft-requested feature — but to call it that isn’t really accurate.

At least in the test version, the feature isn’t available on “main” tweets. The platform also isn’t showing the number of downvotes like it does likes with likes — so it never officially labels them as “dislikes.” In fact, the official verbiage for the feature is “downvote.”

A up and down vote system like this could be used to help drive the algorithm and determine what replies, which are essentially akin to the dreaded “comments section,” a user might find more relevant, useful or in line with their views.

It could also be used to help prevent irrelevant, spam or incredibly short replies on tweets from appearing, though Twitter already does that to some extent, just without a direct user feedback loop other than the existing like feature.

However, such a “filter” could also serve to stifle conversations to the point where a user could be seeing a biases or titled view of the conversation, so it will be interesting to see how the feature plays out and if it rolls out more widely.

Twitter, like most tech companies, frequently experiments with features on batches of users, before deciding if they will become permanent. Often changes will be made to how the feature works as before a widescale rollout based on these tests.

Other tests never make it past this stage.

Earlier this month, Twitter announced it was shutting down its “Fleets” feature, a full fledged rollout that attempted to duplicate the “story” ability on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Fleets would self delete after 24 hours.