How Twitter’s Experimental New Downvoting System Works

The dislike button is one of the most powerful tools on social media. The negative feedback that it represents can ruin brands and cause anguish to users.

In November 2021, YouTube disabled the count on its dislike button, hiding the number of dislikes a video has received. YouTube says this change helped protect creators from harassment and reduced dislike attacks. It made it much harder for people to conspire to drive up the number of dislikes on a specific video.

Twitter is trying a different approach. Having held out for a long time, the social network is now introducing a downvote button.

Twitter Rolls Out Downvoting Globally

In 2021, Twitter introduced a button enabling a small number of US web users to downvote tweets they dislike or find inappropriate. Twitter has now expanded access to this button to more users around the world on both iOS and Android.

Just as with YouTube’s dislike button, the downvote won’t be public. However, unlike YouTube, the owner of a Tweet will not be aware of any downvotes they receive. Instead, Twitter will use the data from the button to train its algorithm on what content you prefer to see and thus show you more of that content. The button is therefore purely for Twitter’s benefit.

It is important to note that the downvote option is currently only for replies; you cannot downvote a tweet itself, just replies to it. Downvotes are not dislikes either. And downvotes will not change the order of replies under a tweet.

If you have access to the new feature, you will see a notification from Twitter when you open the website or app. The downvote button shows up as a downward-facing arrow to the right of the like button (heart icon).

Twitter’s Downvotes Won’t Please Everyone

You might think the button is entirely positive, offering a way of preventing misinformation and trolling. But there’s a danger that it could empower users to silence people and opinions they do not like.

The downvote button benefits Twitter’s algorithm first, prioritizing it ahead of users. Some have suggested Twitter needs to focus on how it can better serve users, rather than the algorithm.

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