Twitter owner Elon Musk shocked users of the social media platform on Friday by announcing plans to remove the ability to block other users—a decision that has not found many prominent supporters so far.
“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature,’ except for DMs,” Musk said, adding that he thinks the feature “makes no sense.”
The news came in response to a tweet from the Telsa Owners Silicon Valley account, which asked if there was ever a reason to block someone instead of using the mute feature. When someone is blocked, they can’t read your tweets. When muted, they can still see your tweets, but their tweets won’t show up in your feed.
Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2023
Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey added his support to removing the block feature in favor of just letting users mute other accounts if desired. “Mute only,” Dorsey replied, along with the “100” emoji signaling approval.
However, Dorsey was in the minority. By and large, Twitter users have pushed back against Musk’s plan—even users who have typically supported him in the past. Detractors believe that removing the feature will cause harm to users who rely on it to keep abusive tweets from hitting their feeds.
“I like most of your other innovations here. But blocking allows people to protect themselves,” author and psychology professor Geoffrey Miller tweeted, citing threats like “stalkers, psychopaths, toxic trolls, [and] cancel culture ‘activists.’”
“It’s a crucial feature for improving the safety and quality of this platform,” Miller added. “Please reconsider!”
I mainly choose to block accounts bc the spam under posts is unbearable otherwise.
— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) August 18, 2023
“Why do you insist on making the experience worse and worse on here every day?” user “Chairman Birb Bernanke” asked. “Are you just abusing people to see how much they’ll take at this point, or what? I block hundreds of accounts for harassment. What purpose does removing this serve?”
Even Greg (@greg16676935420), the Twitter-famous anonymous user who frequently interacts with celebrities like Musk and retired NFL star Tom Brady, replied in support of the feature. “I block to keep scammers and bots off my posts,” Greg tweeted.
“Cool, now we get to deal with threats and abusive behavior and not to mention the spam bots that actually harm one’s audience,” crypto influencer Crypto Wendy O wrote.
The ability to block accounts is a standard feature on social media platforms that have launched in recent years, including X rivals Meta’s Threads, BlueSky, and the decentralized Minds, and Mastodon.
“That is a huge mistake. There are toxic people on this platform that users simply don’t want in their replies,” pseudonymous Twitter user Wall Street Silver said. “Block is a critical peace of mind issue for many people because it generally gets the cyberstalkers to move on.”
Blocking is a privacy and safety feature. I shouldn’t have to be forced to be visible to those who have sent me death threats, abuse, or targeted harassment.
— Sarah O’Connell (@SarahO_Connell) August 18, 2023
Twitter did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.
Musk has made a number of significant changes to the platform since acquiring it last fall. In July, Musk announced that Twitter was changing its branding and logo to X, though many still refer to the platform by its former name and call messages “tweets.”
Tweetdeck, an advanced Twitter client, was also changed to be exclusive to subscribers of the Twitter Blue premium service—as was basic user verification. Some Twitter users believe that the block feature will ultimately go the same route.
“I have received a vision of the future: Within a week of getting rid of the block button, Elon will announce that the block feature will only be available to Twitter Blue subscribers,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Director of Cybersecurity Eva Galperin wrote.