In a quick about-face, Twitter launched and then reversed a new method for blocking users.
Without any fanfare, Twitter made some significant changes to how its blocking feature works on Friday. And within a few hours, the company reverted back to the original block functionality.
For a few hours on Friday, when a users blocked another user, they were essentially muting them. The blocked user could still see the activity of the blocker – from following them to reading their tweets. The only thing this updated feature really did was prevent the blocker from seeing the activity of the blocked.
Amid outrage from users – including those rallying around the #RestoreTheBlock hashtag – Twitter quickly changed its block feature back to normal. Now, when someone is blocked, they are really and truly blocked. They cannot see the tweets or other activity of the blocker, nor can the blocker see their activity.
Apparently, the reason Twitter made the change in the first place was to protect users from retaliation. Under the old (and current) blocking method, users could discover they had been blocked and would sometimes take aggressive action to punish the blocker. The temporary new method prevented anyone from discovering that they had been blocked.
Still, despite the apparently altruistic reasons behind the change, Twitter received flack from users who saw the new policy as punishing the victims, not the aggressors. Enough of them banded together and lobbied the company to change the feature back – and it did.
It’s pretty clear why the new feature wasn’t well received. Blocking is not the same as muting, and Twitter limited the privacy of its users by rolling out the new feature. However, the fact that the company was quick enough to reverse their change within hours of launching it speaks well for how much they care about their users experience (from the Twitter blog):
“We’ve built Twitter to help you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. That vision must coexist with keeping users safe on the platform. We’ve been working diligently to strike this balance since Twitter’s inception, and we thank you for all of your support and feedback to date. Thank you in advance for your patience as we continue to build the best – and safest – Twitter we possibly can.”
(Access denied image via Shutterstock)