Twitter backflips on blocking policy

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.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

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.

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