Earlier this week, Twitter started rolling out a new feature to “a small % globally” of its users—namely, the ability to limit tweet replies to people tagged in the original tweet. That’s nice for arranging more limited public conversations, but it also has an interesting side effect: if you don’t tag anyone in your tweet, then absolutely no one can reply.
Some lucky Twitter users are already using this new feature for gimmicky jokes, tweeting out intentionally trolly messages with blocked replies and letting followers stew in their inability to answer back. But The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog seems to be using the feature for a more noble purpose: blocking the spread of spoilers for the upcoming The Last of Us Part II.
Ever since major plot spoilers for the game leaked onto the Internet via a debug build earlier this month, every one of Naughty Dog’s social media posts has been bombarded with hundreds of trolls posting references to the footage. Yesterday’s tweet from the company, sharing a promotional image for the game, avoided this fate simply because replies were not allowed by the system (as noted by the message “A conversation between @Naughty_Dog and people they mentioned in this Tweet” appearing at the bottom).
A new way to have a convo with exactly who you want. We’re starting with a small % globally, so keep your 👀 out to see it in action. pic.twitter.com/pV53mvjAVT
— Twitter (@Twitter) May 20, 2020
This isn’t totally new territory for Naughty Dog. The company also turned off comments for a YouTube video earlier this month discussing the completion of the game’s development. The official PlayStation YouTube account has similarly disabled comments for every Last of Us Part II-related video posted since the leak, even as commenting has remained active for other new videos on the channel. And Facebook comments for both brands have long been routinely pruned of trolling and other unproductive content.
Still, this is new territory for Twitter, which has long struggled with questions of how stringently it moderates harassment and misinformation while facing “free speech” complaints from critics on the other side. Once this feature is rolled out widely, we imagine Naughty Dog will only be among the first of many brands to limit Twitter replies during times when followers are being “unruly.”
After an early April delay due to coronavirus-related logistical issues, The Last of Us Part II is now set for a June 19 release.