Twitter Changes Blocking Policy To Be More Stalker-Friendly, Realizes Maybe That Wasn’t A Good Idea

Yesterday, Twitter announced out of the blue that it was making a change in the way it allows users to “block” followers, effectively turning it into a mute button that allowed stalkers to keep reading and responding to your Tweets — you just wouldn’t see it. After a backlash from users who pointed out this isn’t a great idea, the company canceled that plan.

One of the supposed positives of the policy change was that a blocked Twitter follower would no longer see that he/she is blocked from accessing the feed. Twitter says this is to minimize retaliation from crazy people who would retaliate over being blocked from reading a Twitter feed.

Of course, since Twitter was no longer notifying blocked users of their blocked status, those people were able to continue publicly interacting with the feed — responding to Tweets, re-Tweeting items, directing Tweets at the user who had blocked them, all of which would be available to everyone except the blocker. So it was effectively like dealing with a stalker ranting outside your door by turning the volume on your TV up so you can’t hear him anymore.

Then late last night, in the wake of user disappointment on this change, Twitter announced it was reverting back to the old blocking policy, which means blocked users will once again be notified of their jerk status. This will undoubtedly cause some of them to get upset and do things like create new Twitter profiles to continue their insanity (because stalkers are nothing if not persistent).

We think Twitter should give users the option of choosing which form of blocking they prefer, as stalked users probably have a decent idea of how their stalkers might respond to being blocked. If they expect retaliation, then they could go the mute-button route. If they expect the trolls will just eventually stop, then they can go the old-fashioned “You’re blocked” route.

The only true way to lock out a Twitter stalker is to make your feed private, giving access only to followers that you approve. To some, the idea that the entire world would be prevented from enjoying their 140-character quips on everything from politics to reality shows is unacceptable. But keeping those pronouncements public means they will always be inviting haters and possibly worse.

Twitter Reverts Changes To Blocking Functionality After Strong Negative User Feedback [TechCrunch]

Twitter changes how ‘block’ works, makes it more of a mute button (update: changes reverted after backlash) [Engadget]

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  1. Xenotaku says:

    What I don’t get, is when they changed the original policy in the first place? I’ve been blocked by someone (I have no clue why or when, as I was never notified*). All them blocking me did was keep me from following them. I can still view their page directly and see their tweets. I can still see anything of theirs that is retweeted to my list. I’m assuming (though I’ve never tried) that I can tweet @ them, though whether or not it shows up for them is unknown. And this has been well over a year.

    *When the block (presumably) occurred was during the period where Twitter would randomly unfollow people for you. I noticed I hadn’t been seeing any tweets from her when I saw a retweet on my feed, and figured that’s what had happened. I went to follow her again, and it told me “this user has blocked you”. So if they notified you that you’ve been blocked (before this recent change/reverse), then that had to have been a change, too.