On Friday, Elon Musk announced that X users, formerly Twitter, will no longer be able to block unwanted followers’ comments, removing a key safety feature. Blocking is only for direct messages, he said.
“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs,” Musk wrote Friday. He was responding to a post from the account of Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, asking, “Is there ever a reason to block vs mute someone?” The group behind that account promotes the electric car company, where Musk is CEO.
Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2023
Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion and has since laid off many employees, reinstated banned accounts, and rebranded the company and platform as X.
He replied that “it makes no sense” and that the mute function will remain, but he did not give a reason or timeline for eliminating the block function.
Users can block hateful content and harassment in their feed in response to their posts. Muting only hides unwanted responses from the user, not from others’ feeds.
Twitter users have also long employed the block feature in boycotts and to avoid seeing ads from specific brands or promoters on the platform.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, an investor in the new Twitter alongside Musk, said in a post that the company should focus its attention elsewhere.
“X should really solve the bots & spam problems before removing blocks,” wrote Zhao, whose company owns one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges. “Just my 0.02.”
Musk’s “lax approach to free speech,” is likely to have a “double effect,” making bullying more common on the platform and inhibiting free speech by those users who are targets of bullies and predators, Jones wrote in an email to CNBC. “It’s a downward spiral that cannot be good for the long term success of X.”