Twitter changed the functionality of its block button Thursday, effectively making it more like a “mute” button.
After considerable user outcry, Twitter changed its block function back to the way it was.
The whole thing happened over just a few hours. Twitter’s initial change was fairly quiet—there was no announcement on Twitter’s blog or even a tweet about it, only some comments in a few articles
—but once users noticed that people they had blocked were again following them, they started openly asking why. People who were blocked could read the tweets of the people who had blocked them and even respond to them, even if the blocker couldn’t see those responses.
Those questions quickly evolved into a campaign that used the hashtag #RestoreTheBlock. About 2,100 people signed a change.org petition
asking Twitter to reinstate its previous block function.
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The campaign wasn’t simply about people keeping their bosses from reading their tweets. It raised some serious concerns about stalking, abuse and harassment.
After a reported emergency executive meeting, Twitter announced early Friday morning in a blog post
it would change blocking back. It was some lightning fast damage control.
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. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect.
The post goes on to say that Twitter will continue to investigate ways to avoid what it calls “retaliation against blocking.”
Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation.