Formerly Twitter, X, will soon eliminate the option for users to block unwanted followers from commenting on their posts, as revealed by X’s owner, Elon Musk, in a recent announcement. This change has raised concerns about a fundamental safety feature being removed from the platform. The ability to block will now be limited solely to direct messages, Musk stated.
Musk’s statement came in response to a query from the account of Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, a group associated with the electric car company led by Musk. The question posed was about the distinction between blocking and muting individuals on the platform.
After acquiring Twitter for $44 billion and rebranding it as X, Musk has been actively reshaping the platform. He has made staff reductions, reinstated previously banned accounts, and now, he is removing the block function. The reason and timing behind this decision have not been disclosed, except for Musk’s comment that the move “makes no sense.” The mute function will still be retained, he confirmed.
Blocking has traditionally been used by users to prevent offensive content and harassment from appearing in response to their posts. Muting, on the other hand, merely hides unwanted responses from the individual user’s view, while they remain visible to others.
Beyond countering harassment, Twitter users have employed the block feature for purposes such as boycotting and avoiding ads from specific brands or promoters.
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance and an investor in the new X, expressed his opinion that the platform should prioritize addressing issues related to bots and spam before removing the block function. Zhao suggested that this move might not be in the platform’s best interest.
Louis Jones, a media and advertising expert currently associated with the Brand Safety Institute, voiced serious concerns about Musk’s decision. Jones emphasized that this approach could lead to an influx of spam, threats, and harmful content on the platform. He critiqued Musk’s lenient stance on free speech, predicting that this change could foster an environment conducive to bullying and impede free speech for those targeted by bullies and predators. Jones concluded that such a trajectory could have detrimental consequences for the long-term success of X.