The Pulse: Twitter tests out a down-vote feature, Instagram improves the in-app experience for visually-impaired users, and Meta adds personal boundary zones in VR
Last July, Twitter initially rolled out the “down-vote” option, which for many users, was misconstrued as a “dislike” button. However, Twitter describes the button as a way to minimize spam or otherwise irrelevant content. While the number of downvotes on a Tweet won’t be public, some users fear that the new feature is a step towards “shadowbanning”- the act of partially obscuring the visibility of a user’s content. At its core, the downvote feature aims to provide a space where content is optimized for the user, where the most engaging content is at the forefront.
Instagram is in the works of redeveloping its UI and post-labelling to make it more visually-impaired friendly. The initial post-labelling process individually highlighted each UI feature, resulting in an overdrawn process for visually-impaired users. Instagram will be simplifying the post layout in order to ensure the seamless ability to explore in-app is always present. Likewise, post-actions (likes, comments, shares, etc.) will be moved to a central location for a simplified UI.
It seems that even in the digital realm, safety is still a major concern. As the Metaverse becomes a larger facet of life, so do the inherent implications of a largely unregulated space. Recently, multiple women have come forward with complaints of harassment in the VR space. In response, Meta has introduced “personal boundary” zones, in which users can exist harassment-free. The existence of these zones begs the question, as VR becomes commonplace, how are we ensuring these spaces stay inclusive and safe for all? Is it even possible? As Meta has repeatedly reiterated, social media is simply a reflection of larger societal trends.