Twitter lets users downvote tweets, but not to encourage negativity

Twitter is now testing upvote and downvote buttons on tweets, though they're only visible to users who access the platform through the company's iOS app at this time. The idea of upvote and downvote buttons are nothing new — they're a core aspect of Reddit, for example, and many people have asked for them on platforms like Facebook. They're also a potential problem for social media sites.

Though some platforms — Facebook, perhaps most notably — have expanded the number of reactions users can leave on other users' posts, they still avoid downvotes. Reddit and its clones aside, the closest we've gotten to any sort of downvote button on a popular platform is Facebook's "angry" reaction emoji, though it can also be used in a positive, supportive way.

The reason these platforms generally avoid downvote options is due to the negativity they bring to the platform. Users who are bombarded with negative downvotes, for example, may experience negative emotions and, as a result, abandon the platform entirely. It's no surprise, then, that Twitter's downvotes won't work the same way they do on Reddit.

In a description on its Twitter Support account, the company said that downvotes won't be visible to anyone but Twitter and the person who made them. That's because the upvote and downvote buttons are designed to help Twitter learn about the type of replies users prefer to see, not to express negativity about a particular tweet or user.

According to Twitter, upvotes on a tweet will be publicly visible as 'likes,' while downvotes will be entirely invisible to other users. The upvote button appears as an arrow that turns green when tapped; the downvote button is an arrow facing downward that turns orange. Twitter shared a screenshot demo of the new buttons that include multiple variations.

In one variation, for example, users see thumbs-up and thumbs-down icons, while others see the downvote arrow and the typical heart icon used to 'like' a tweet. The upvotes and downvotes will influence the kind of tweets Twitter will make visible on replies while helping weed out the kind of replies users aren't interested in seeing. It's unclear how many iOS users have access to the new buttons, as well as whether there are plans to expand them to Android in the future.