Elon Musk says X (Twitter) is planning to remove the ability to block other accounts.
“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs,” said the X owner in a post to his platform. “Makes no sense.”
Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2023
When X-centric account X News Daily mentioned that blocking plays “an important role to combat harassment, trolls and spam,” Musk simply said that users can “mute” instead.
Of course, muting isn’t a proper solution, as it simply means you don’t receive notifications from the account in question. Meanwhile, the person is able to continue to see your full account and send more potentially harmful content your way. For many who face online abuse, particularly women and marginalized communities, the ability to fully cut off someone’s access to your social media activity is far more desirable than muting.
As with many of Musk’s questionable decisions, he didn’t actually provide a reason as to why blocking “makes no sense.” However, many X users joked that he is upset at how many people block his account or even those containing ads. It’s also another example of him objectively making his platform worse by removing options from people, such as his recently-reversed plans to force dark mode onto everyone.
After Musk made the announcement, some users pointed out that he might have trouble going through with the change. That’s because Apple and Google’s respective app marketplace policies might prevent him from removing the ability to block.
App Store rules stipulate that apps that offer user-generated content (UGC) must provide “the ability to block abusive users from the service.” Meanwhile, Google Play’s policies note that “apps that contain or feature UGC, including apps which are specialized browsers or clients to direct users to a UGC platform, must implement robust, effective, and ongoing UGC moderation that … provides an in-app system for blocking UGC and users.”
It remains to be seen how Musk might address all of this or when he even plans to have the block feature removed. Should the change go into effect, though, users’ only recourse besides muting (or leaving X entirely) will be to set their account to “private.” Of course, neither option is ideal, especially when blocking is just such a universal and common-sense feature, but sadly, this is just par for the course for Musk.
Source: Elon Musk
Update: 18/08/2023 at 9:10pm ET — Updated to include context that app store policies regarding blocking capabilities may prevent Musk from going down this route.