As he often does, Twitter/X CEO Elon Musk caused quite the commotion on Friday, casually throwing in a mention of his plan to get rid of the “block” feature in a reply to a tweet on the social media platform.
In response to a question from the Tesla Owners Silicon Valley account asking all Twitter users, “Is there ever a reason to block vs mute someone? Give your reasons,” Musk replied by tweeting, “Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs.”
Of the feature, Musk later added, “It makes no sense.”
Though opinions vary on what the best option is (mute or block?) to avoid having to deal with trolls and just people in general who are up to no good, there appeared to be near-universal agreement – especially among people who had been stalked and/or doxxed – that it was a terrible idea.
One of the especially interesting things about Musk’s announcement is that it got the Community Notes treatment, with the note pointing out how it’s a requirement on Google Apps and the Apple Store that users have the ability to block “abusive users.” Because the note keeps disappearing, I’ve included a screengrab of it below:
owned by his own platform pic.twitter.com/E2zxrxwFgk
— Michael Duncan (@MichaelDuncan) August 18, 2023
Musk’s decision to eliminate the block feature is in direct violation of App Store guidelines & will lead to X’s removal from the App Store, if implemented
I predict Elon isn’t aware of this & will backtrack — saying he was “trolling” or “joking” — and his followers will buy it pic.twitter.com/cHnfHNYZex
— LeGate (@williamlegate) August 18, 2023
As to what prompted Musk to make this decision, speculation is running high that it’s not so much because he feels blocking people is a bad thing (after all, he’s blocked people himself) but that his goal is to keep people from being able to block ads.
“Musk is trying to do this for 2 reasons,” David Burge aka Iowahawkblog wrote. “1. people block ads 2. blocking adds to their cloud computing costs at their server hosts (AWS and Google).”
“This is the social media equivalent of Ford trying to save $2.17 on a gas tank part for the 1972 Pinto,” Burge went on to say.
Spectator contributing editor Stephen L. Miller was on the same wavelength.
“Once you get that most people block ads from their timeline, Musk’s idea makes much more sense,” Miller tweeted.
In response to the outcry, Twitter software engineer Aqueel Miqdad used a Twitter thread to try and explain the rationale:
i am seeing a lot of users concerned about removing blocks. We can make mutes stronger, like not allow people you mute to reply or quote you. We can also transfer you block list to mute list. Preventing an account from seeing your posts does not work in practice. Anyone with any intent can find out what you post by simply creating another account or logging out
blocks are actually problematic in some cases. Some users block the people they want to harass and spam so they don’t find out fast enough
lots of good feedback in this thread, will relay it to the team.
“Anyone with any intent can find out what you post by simply creating another account or logging out.” What a silly argument. Everyone knows that. The idea is to make it much harder to do so.
As to his comments about how “some users block the people they want to harass and spam so they don’t find out fast enough,” if that’s truly an issue surely there’s a way to fix it so that the innocent parties on Twitter don’t have to pay for the guilty parties’ wrongdoing?
Musk has opened up a can of worms here, and apparently over an issue he perhaps didn’t research beforehand. Then again, that’s also nothing new for him.
Twitter user Jeff Carlson pretty much perfectly summed up the feelings of many about the demise of “X” right about now:
1) I’m now materially shadow-banned
2) Engagements have crashed
3) I can no longer use the significantly more user-friendly old tweetdeck
4) I can’t block the bot attacks
5) I get to pay a monthly premium for all this
Yeah. I’m this-close to walking away from Twitter outside of utilizing it to find news links and other interesting content (sans tweeting and actually trying in vain to drum up engagement). I’ve been shadowbanned for years, it hasn’t changed under his “leadership,” and paying for the “premium” subscription hasn’t been worth it at all. In short, Twitter is no longer worth my while – and I suspect I’m far from the only subscriber who feels that way.
Flashback: Elon Musk Highlights Creepy as Hell Message Joe Biden Sent to ‘LGBTQ Kids’