December 13, 2013
Listening To Disgruntled Users, Twitter Reverts To Original Blocking Rules
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Twitter has made changes to its blocking functionality and reverted to the old rules whereby users are unable to follow an account after being blocked. The change, detailed on Twitter's blog, is a response to user feedback.
"We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users - we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe," wrote Twitter VP of Product Michael Sippey, in the blog post.
Now that the block functionality has been reversed, users will once again be aware when they have been blocked. The changes evidently go against Twitter's better judgment due to how people behave when blocked.
"We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users (and sometimes their friends) that often occurs. Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse," Sippey wrote.
The previous changes were essentially a "mute" button, that allowed blocked Twitter users to continue to see tweets and interact with accounts once they had been blocked. The changes were met with complaints from a significant portion of the Twitter population. With the current reverse, blocked users are not allowed to follow an account or interact through messages with the account holder once blocked.
Twitter users can be assured their blocks are intact. "Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect," Sippey wrote.
The changes were originally made, and reversed, by Twitter to address harmful activities such as cyberbullying. There have been a number of high-profile cases of trolling. And Twitter users sometimes bombard targeted accounts with threats and abuse.
Under the new guidelines, blocked users can still interact with a Twitter account, but the activity won't be visible to the user.
"Now, though, any user you block can follow you and view your tweets directly in their timeline. They can also favorite, retweet and @-reply to your account—you just won't see any of that activity in your timeline or your "connect" tab. You also won't see anyone else who RTs, favorites or follows blocked users, and you won't see blocked users among your followers," ReadWriteWeb's Selena Larson explains.
To put it more simply: "In effect, blocking another user 'mutes' them for you, but changes nothing for them," Larson writes.
Updating the blocking policy is intended to reduce the antagonism expressed when someone is blocked, a Twitter spokesperson told ReadWriteWeb. In many cases users who discovered they were blocked retaliated by getting friends and other users in the Twittersphere to tweet harassing comments at the blocker.
The decision to reverse changes to its blocking policy didn't take long. The turn-around took place hours after Twitter originally modified its blocking mechanism, AFP reports.
Many Twitter users saw the reversal as a victory. Several users took to the #RestoreTheBlock hashtag to make their voice heard. After the new rules were reversed, AFP pointed to one Twitter user who tweeted:
"We made #RestoreTheBlock happen," Katie Collins tweeted with the Twitter handle @GrlRedBalloon, thanking users of the service who "mobilized the troops."