Cheat Sheet: Twitter’s New Limits on Visibility

What are you allowed to share on Twitter these days – and what are you not allowed to share?

Are you sure?

Because Twitter has been making a lot of changes lately, and some of them could affect your visibility in the Timeline and seriously limit the number of people who can hear what you have to say.

Ian Malcolm Quote

Let’s set the record straight with a quick recap of what’s new, different, and more important than ever when you’re navigating the ol’ Twittersphere.

Here’s your cheat sheet to the latest:

Are you missing from notifications?

It’s been a few years since Twitter first introduced the mute feature, but they’re always looking for ways to make it more effective.

(In late 2016, for example, they introduced the option to mute Tweets containing specific words.)

Muting limits the visibility of certain types of Tweets – and while the extent to which it does so depends on different factors, those factors have recently gotten even more strict.

If you mute an account that you follow, you’ll still receive notifications if they reply to your Tweets or mention you in their own.

If you mute an account that you don’t follow, though, you’ll no longer receive those notifications. If they’re involved in a conversation that @-mentions you, you’ll receive notifications from anyone else who mentions you, but not the user you’ve muted.

And of course, this will be true for anyone who’s muted YOU.

If you @-mention someone who doesn’t follow you, and they’ve muted your account, they won’t see it in their notifications.

There’s no way to tell whether or not a user has muted you, but as of right now, muting or blocking are still the only reasons you’d be left out of somebody’s notifications.

(Good thing your Tweets are so gosh-darned irresistible that nobody would dream of muting or blocking you, right?)

Could you be put on probation?

Breaking the rules on Twitter?

It could land you in a serious time-out!

As reported by BuzzFeed, Twitter is testing out a system of putting certain accounts on a probation-like suspension in response to rule violations.

The suspension will limit the visibility of those users’ Tweets so that only their followers can see them.

Suspended Twitter Account

Twitter specified that this is based not necessarily on specific words that are being used (such as hate speech), but on user behavior overall.

(Granted, there’s some serious overlap between hate speech and rule-violating behavior, but more on that in a second.)

The question is, are you breaking any of the Twitter rules that could land you in time-out?

What are the types of behavior that Twitter is targeting?

Even if you’re pretty sure you know, are you willing to bet your visibility on it?

What “abuse” is – and what it isn’t

Like a lot of Twitter’s more recent policy changes, this change has been made in response to abuse of the platform.

And that means this is a pretty good time to be reminded of what exactly that type of abuse looks like.

Twitter defines abuse pretty traditionally – threats, harassment, hateful conduct, sharing others’ private information, and so on are all officially off-limits.

(To be honest, it’s pretty unlikely you needed to be told that. We believe in you, dear reader.)

But is there any non-obvious stuff?

Any hidden-deep-in-the-fine-print-type stuff that sneaks up and catches you by surprise?

Do you need to worry that Twitter is going to suspend you because they also consider it abuse when you share a link too many times, or when your memes are too outdated?

Xzibit Meme

Breathe easy – that sort of thing doesn’t count.

Twitter’s definition of abuse does NOT include things like automated or repeated Tweets.

(Those two things are basically standard operating procedure for brands and publishers these days – everyone from social media marketing blogs to major publications like The New York Times do it. Heck, that’s why we’re here at all – to make it easier!)

Scary as this update might sound – with the talk of limited visibility and account probation and all – it isn’t likely to affect you or your marketing.

What do YOU think of these new features?

Does this make sense to you as a response to abuse on Twitter?

Do you worry that it might have some unintended consequences?

Is there another approach you’d like to see Twitter take?

Share what you think in the comments below!


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