If you’ve ever tweeted something innocuous that went on to kick off a firestorm of unwanted attention, you know full well that people on Twitter will fight about anything and everything — it’s the internet’s premier destination for high-speed, low-information opinion slinging, after all.
Twitter has been working on ways to tone down the toxicity that the platform is known for, and the latest experiment primes people with a few pointers before they wade into messy tweet fights. Users may see the test prompts appear on Twitter’s iOS and Android apps.
The company says the idea is to give people a heads-up if they’re about to join a conversation that’s “heated or intense,” which on Twitter could be anything from life-threatening health misinformation to guacamole recipes. Twitter says the goal, as it has stated before, is to foster “healthy conversation” on the platform.
The test labels appear under a tweet and display a little warning that “conversations like this can be intense.” To participate, it looks like you’ll need to click through a prompt encouraging users to be factual, open to diverse perspectives and reminding them of their shared humanity. The company says that it may evaluate tweet topic and the “relationship between the Tweet author and replier” in displaying the prompt.
Twitter has tested other behavior-shaping prompts previously, including pop-ups that discouraged users from sending hate and harassment in replies. Targeted pop-ups are clearly a tool that shows promise for slowing some rapid-fire toxic social media patterns, though given the scope of people being monstrous assholes online, we’re going to need a lot of different solutions.