Science and Tech


Twitter Reinstates Blocking Policy After User Outcry

Twitter modified its user blocking policy on Thursday, then reversed its decision in the face of user backlash.
Posted at 10:06 AM, Dec 13, 2013

Twitter changed the way blocking other users worked on its site Thursday night — and just as quickly reversed the decision as users cried foul.

Twitter's original block system cut off important features for blocked accounts — the blockee could not follow or reply to the blocker, for example, and the blocker wouldn’t see any of the blockee's tweets or activity.

Twitter changed the system Thursday — blockers couldn't see the activity of anyone they'd blocked, but these blockees could still read, retweet and favorite content from blockers. In short, blocking someone no longer offered the same privacy.

CEO Dick Costolo said the change was fulfilling a "longstanding request" from users.

But a large chunk of the Internet didn't see it that way, and the tweets started to roll in. Users equated the policy to a one-way mirror facing the wrong way, or to a simple mute button. (Via Twitter)

Even a petition sprang up, urging Twitter to reconsider its new position.

And Twitter did revert its policy within hours, though its blog post makes it clear the company think there’s still a better way out there.

"We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users that often occurs. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation."

There was a certain logic to Twitter’s move. As CNET explains, "Because even logged-out users, or someone who has never even signed up for Twitter, can see any public account, blocking did not previously keep anyone from seeing someone's public tweets."

And since Twitter has re-instituted the old blocking policy, this is still a feature. GottaBeMobile has a reminder:

"Twitter is on the Internet. And if it’s on the Internet it’s public and so are you and your tweets. A tree may fall in the forest and no one may hear it, but if you tweet anyone can read it or find you."

Twitter does offer one exception, both to public tweets and to the blocking policy — protecting your account. If your tweets are protected only those followers you individually approve will be able to see your account activity.