Twitter backflips on blocking policy

Twitter backflips on blocking policy

Summary: Emergency meetings between Twitter executives have resulted in a decision to renege on today's blocking policy, although the company said it doesn't agree with the principle.


Twitter has backflipped on a decision to change how users can block each other.

The company made changes to the way its blocking feature works only earlier today, causing a significant stir among the community.

Prior to the change, blocking a user would trigger a number of actions. Firstly, the blocked user would be unable to view the user's timeline while signed in. This is less effective if the user's timeline is public, as the "blocked" user can simply log out.

Secondly, the blocked user is forced to unfollow the user and will not be able to re-follow or add them to any of their lists. Through this mechanism, it is possible for the blocked user to determine that they have been blocked if they keep a close eye on who they are following, and/or attempt to re-follow the user.

Thirdly, the user will no longer see anything posted by the blocked user on their timeline, including mentions.

Under the changes to the blocking system, the second trigger never executes, in a bid to mask that any blocking action has taken place.

Twitter had made the change out of concerns that once a user discovered they were blocked, they would retaliate by blocking back.

However, with the backlash today, the company held an emergency meeting to discuss the changes. It came to the decision to reverse its blocking policy, but said that its original intentions were for the protection of its customers.

"We believe this [policy reversal] 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," the company wrote on its blog.

It expects to roll out other means of discouraging retaliatory behaviour and abuse, but has not yet expanded on how this might be possible.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • We want privacy!

    It's unfortunate that twitter is engaging in the same privacy-violating practices as facebook and google. I left those services because of bad privacy, and I may have to do the same with twitter. They should know better. Just look at the recent success of privacy-based services such as SnapChat, Ravetree, WhatsApp, DuckDuckGo, etc. Users are beginning to demand better privacy. We know we'll never get it with google and facebook, but I hoped twitter wouldn't be as bad. I was wrong.
    • what are you talking about

      did you even read the article? they were clearly trying to help their users by obscuring the action of blocking as to prevent retaliation. seems like a pretty good policy to me, but a lot of people on twitter are morons so any change is scary.

      chris I'd recommend that you read articles before you comment.
  • Easy Solution

    It would seem the obvious solution would be to offer both options to the blocker; it is easy to see that some people just would want to be left alone and not have the blocked party know they are being blocked, while others would want to be completely disengaged with someone and not visible to them. So all that @Twitter needs to do is offer the option of one or two way blocking.
  • So, Twitter is mainly for children?

    Blocked? Retaliation? Back-flips?....

    Are we serious here? Adults actually do this stuff? Perhaps we should prefix "anti" to "Social Media". Or, maybe those who twitter, flutter or flitter should just grow up a bit. This whole thing would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.