The Impact of Removing the Blocking Feature on X

In a surprising move, Elon Musk, the CEO of X (formerly Twitter), has announced that the platform will be removing its blocking feature, claiming that it “makes no sense”. While users will still have the ability to block people from direct messaging them, this change has raised concerns among many users about the potential impact on their ability to remove abusive or harassing posts from their timelines.

The removal of the blocking feature is just one of several changes that Musk has implemented since taking over X in a $44 billion deal last year. Currently, when a user blocks an account, it prevents that account’s posts from appearing in the blocker’s timeline and vice versa. Additionally, a blocked account cannot send messages to the blocker or view their posts. Jack Dorsey, the former founder of Twitter, seemed to support Musk’s decision, stating “100%. Mute only.” However, many users are worried that muting an account may not provide sufficient protection against cases of harassment, abuse, or stalking. The mute function currently only stops notifications about an account’s posts, but the muted account can still view and reply to the muter’s posts.

Critics argue that Musk’s decision to remove the blocking feature is a “huge mistake” as it takes away a valuable tool for users to avoid interacting with toxic individuals on the platform. Removing this feature may also lead to potential violations of the terms and conditions of app stores like Apple’s App Store and Google Play, both of which require social media apps to provide facilities for filtering harassment or bullying. If X goes ahead with this policy change, it is uncertain whether all previously blocked accounts will automatically become unblocked. This decision may also affect the availability of X on these app stores.

In response to the potential backlash, X users have the option to make their accounts private, allowing only accepted followers to view their posts and hiding their tweets from the public. However, this may restrict the platform’s open nature and limit the ability for users to engage in public conversations.

It is important to consider the implications of this decision on the overall user experience and safety of the platform. While Musk aims to create a “digital town square” where all voices are heard, he may face challenges related to app store regulations and social media guidelines concerning user protection against online harms. This move could potentially put X in a precarious position, as its owner’s statements and actions are often seen as significant, yet unreliable, given his reputation for not always being serious or following through on his ideas.

The blocking feature has long been an essential tool for users who wish to protect themselves from attacks, bullying, or contentious accounts. When users report an account, one of the initial pieces of advice given is to block or mute it while the incident is being investigated. Muting an account allows users to avoid seeing the account’s posts, but it does not prevent the muted account from viewing their posts. Being forced to remain visible to someone they are trying to avoid or feel afraid of is an unusual move that may cause discomfort among users.

In conclusion, the decision to remove the blocking feature on X has sparked concerns among users regarding their ability to filter out abusive or harassing content. This move could potentially lead to violations of app store terms and conditions and social media regulations. It remains to be seen how X will address these challenges and whether they will reintroduce alternative functionalities to ensure user safety and satisfaction.