Despite its inherent character limits, it’s almost too easy to get roped into Twitter threads you never had any intention to be part of. Whether as a reply to someone or just as a random action, getting “@mentioned” can lead down a slippery slope that can even end up in harassment. Twitter currently doesn’t have any functionality to fix this situation, even as it prohibits any form of harassment. Fortunately, a privacy designer at the social network is coming up with concepts that will hopefully get implemented to let users unmention themselves out of conversations.
Although it often happens in replies, anyone can simply mention your Twitter handle, and any replies to that will automatically include you unless the author opts to actually remove your handle. At the moment, there is no way for users to take control of their own handles and remove themselves from what could be a toxic thread. That’s in contrast to Facebook, which has long allowed its users to untag themselves from photos or posts.
Twitter privacy designer Dominic Camozzi is conceptualizing simple ways to save yourself from such situations. A simple option on a tweet could immediately unmention yourself and remove the unwanted attention it might be bringing.
The concept, however, goes beyond just retroactive removal. The idea is to also give users the choice of who can @mention them, especially if it’s someone they don’t follow in the first place. Unfortunately, that still relies on the user first getting a lot of mentions, in which case they are notified of the sudden activity.
These features could help give users more control over who can pull them into conversations, something that Twitter only makes too easy to do. Unfortunately, these are still concepts, and it isn’t clear if this will be the direction the social network will take in the hopefully near future.