Twitter Testing a New Way to Spark Engagement by Highlighting Things in Common with Other Users

Yeah, I don’t know about this.

In an attempt to spark more positive engagement and discussion within the app, Twitter’s launching a new test that will highlight things you have in common with other users who you don’t follow within the tweet reply composer.

As you can see here, the new prompts will highlight, for example, topics that you both follow, building on Twitter’s gradually expanding topic listings.  

Which is interesting, I guess. But it could also lead to uncomfortable exchanges – or worse, really annoying marketing pitches.

You ever get pitches from marketers that try to personalize the message with generic elements? Imagine these prompts being added into the mix.

“Hey [insert name], I see you’re interested in Star Wars, isn’t The Mandalorian great? Anyway, you should check out our new [insert product] – here’s a link to more info.”

In fact, I can see this rapidly becoming the primary use case, which could make it an extra annoying feature.

For its part, Twitter sees this as a potential means to reduce abuse and aggressive behavior in the app.

As Twitter’s Christine Su explained to Mashable:

“In the heat of the moment, people can forget there’s another human behind a Twitter account. By showing what we have in common, we hope to remind people of what connects us as a starting point. We hope this helps encourage thoughtful conversations between strangers on Twitter.”

So when you go to tell that idiot to shut the heck up in the most polite and direct terms you can come up with, you’ll now see that they also like dogs and then re-think your approach. Maybe. Probably not.

Really, it feels like forced engagement, which won’t lead to any significant shift in user behavior. But at least Twitter’s willing to try out new things, and new approaches to age-old problems on the web, and on Twitter specifically, where ‘cancel culture’ is now basically a fundamental part of the app’s overall make-up.

Everybody’s dealing with their own issues and problems, and you can’t know what someone might be going through at any given time. Should that excuse poor behavior online? No, but maybe, by adding a little extra humanization to the avatars that you see, it could help reiterate this element.

But you can expect marketing pitches. Bad ones.

The new prompts are being tested on Android from today.  

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