Twitter is testing a new tag that will make it easier to parse who started a thread. The new feature, which is starting to pop up for some users, makes it easier to find posts from the original tweeter within a thread, but may also help curb (some types of) abuse on the platform, making it easier to distinguish accounts that are masquerading as other tweeters, for instance.
Twitter confirmed the experiment to TechCrunch, noting that the tag has been rolled out to a “small percentage” of iOS and Android users across markets.
“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. As part of this work, we’re exploring adding more context to discussions by highlighting relevant replies – like those from the original Tweeter,” Twitter’s Director of Product Management Sara Haider told TechCrunch in a statement.
In practice, this will probably be most helpful for situations like distinguishing Elon Musk from the Ethereum-hocking false copies popping up below him, ensuring that users don’t have to read every character of a user’s handle before they can tell if it’s trusted information.
This solution obviously only helps users distinguish the “owner” of the thread they are viewing, but it’s a worthwhile start. As the company verifies more accounts but still allows users to easily change their name or profile picture, this could avert some imitation issues.
One wonders if they could have more easily distinguished the “Original Tweeter” in a more pretty way than by spelling out “Original Tweeter” beneath their handle, but it’s a small rollout and I guess it leaves very little room for interpretation, so whatever.
It’s certainly a small change, but it all plays back into Twitter’s more drastic (beta) plans to introduce changes like color-coded replies that give users more prominent interface cues to gather insights about the threads that they’re surfing through. The same beta app also introduces features like algorithmically-sorted replies and a generally more toned-down UI.