Twitter’s new audio feature will transform it, for better or worse

Heated political discussion is no longer confined to your phone’s keyboard, as Twitter begins to test out new audio tweet features for iOS.

You only need to browse Twitter for five minutes to notice that it’s a very political space where anyone can argue via aggressive tweeting and reactionary gifs.

This defining quality is somewhat of a double-edged sword. While it’s useful to keep informed via other perspectives outside of your own, seas of squabbling voices can quickly become an overwhelming deterrent that switches you off from any given subject. I’ve personally found it a huge help in educating myself on Black Lives Matter movements and American police brutality but, equally, I’ve also gotten lost in left-leaning echo chambers that do little to challenge my own ideals on subjects that could probably do with a more open conversation.

All of that could be about to get more personal, too, as Twitter has just started to roll out a new audio feature that lets users record themselves talking in replace of text.

You can now insult your adversaries with the guttural depths of your vocal chords instead of just throwing out a Homer Simpson gif, which could have untold ramifications for future Twitter conversations. Could we get Donald Trump actually saying the word ‘covfefe’ instead of typing it? It’s 2020, anything is possible.

Users can tap to record audio in much the same way as uploading an image or gif, though clips will be capped at 140 seconds. Any additional audio will automatically be uploaded as a secondary tweet underneath in a thread.

The new feature has begun to roll out on some iOS device but will reportedly be available to everyone with an iPhone soon. There’s no word on whether Android users will eventually also have access to the feature but it’s fair to assume it’ll turn up in the coming months.

While a few positives of this feature immediately come to mind – a more personal touch, quick to post, encourages honest conversation – Twitter will also have a hard time monitoring all this new audio content and flagging up abusive language. It already struggles with identifying hateful tweets and automated bot profiles as it is, and while the site can be used positively it’s also been a major contributor to the spreading of false information in the last five years or so.

I’m sure Twitter will have all the necessary moderation steps in place to tackle these issues but some audio will inevitably slip through the cracks. It may take a few months for the feature to be ironed out and find its feet on the platform – so you may have to put up with one of your slightly racist relatives ranting on Twitter with no pushback for a while.

If you’re an iPhone user it’s worth having a check to see if audio recording is already available. Hopefully all this feature will do is allow for some great memes – which I’m always here for.

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