Twitter tests discussion groups feature called Communities


A new Twitter test launching Wednesday seeks to bring a little focus to the platform.

Dubbed Communities, the feature gives invited members the ability to tweet directly to topic-themed groups. Instead of blasting out dog pics to all of their followers, the logic goes, users could instead send them only to the dog-lovers community.

“Some conversations aren’t for everyone, just the people who want to talk about the thing you want to talk about,” explained David Regan, a Twitter staff product manager, in a press release. 

To keep Communities on theme, as well as to presumably limit harassment, Twitter created rules for its new discussion spaces.

A look at the Twitter Communities test.
Credit: twitter

“Only members in the same Community are able to reply and join the conversation so it stays intimate and relevant,” wrote Regan.

At least initially, Communities will differ from other online groups like Facebook’s private Groups in one key aspect: The discussion within will be open for everyone to see, quote tweet, or report. It’s a small distinction, but a meaningful one. Much like with Twitter’s limit replies feature, this gives participating users the ability to have public conversations with a predetermined group of their choosing.

Twitter Communities in action.

Twitter Communities in action.

Credit: twitter

More Twitter Communities.

More Twitter Communities.

Credit: twitter

Twitter says that anyone can be invited to join a Community, but the ability to send invitations is for now limited to Community moderators or existing Community members. A spokesperson confirmed the test is “English-focused,” but that it’s being run globally — meaning anyone can join a Community as long as they’re invited.

“People can join, participate, and read Communities on iOS and Twitter.com and can only read Communities on Android (with participation and joining coming soon),” added the spokesperson.

It’s clear that Twitter is being extremely deliberate with the Communities launch. The company says “in the coming months” it will open up Community creation more broadly, but for now the test will be limited to topics like dogs, sneakers, weather, and astrology.

This neatly avoids the problem of potential Communities focused around coronavirus vaccine misinformation, or other controversial topics.

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Twitter’s Communities test follows a slew of teased new privacy features, and shows that the company is taking steps — successful or not — to reduce harassment on its platform.

It’s almost, in other words, like the company is trying to build community.

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