In a significant move, Social Media Platform X, previously known as Twitter, has announced its decision to eliminate the account-blocking feature, according to owner Elon Musk. This decision, set to take effect in the near future, has stirred discussions around user safety and free speech on the platform.
The block function on X, which currently empowers users to prevent specific accounts from interacting with them, viewing their content, or following them, will be phased out. Elon Musk himself conveyed this development through a post on the platform, specifying that the “block” feature will remain solely for direct messages (DMs). In contrast, the “mute” function, which offers users the ability to shield themselves from the content of particular accounts without notifying them, will persist.
Is there ever a reason to block vs mute someone?
Give your reasons.
— Tesla Owners Silicon Valley (@teslaownersSV) August 18, 2023
Elon Musk, a self-proclaimed advocate for free speech, has faced criticism for his approach. This decision arrives amidst ongoing debates concerning the rise of hate speech and objectionable content on the platform. Researchers have observed a surge in such content since Musk’s acquisition of X, prompting concerns about moderation efforts.
The move to dismantle or restrict the account-blocking feature could potentially conflict with guidelines established by leading app stores. Apple’s App Store necessitates apps featuring user-generated content to include measures to block abusive users. Similarly, Google Play Store mandates an in-app system to block user-generated content and users.
Responses from involved parties—X, Google, and Apple—are awaited as their perspectives on this decision are crucial. Meanwhile, anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinsky expressed the importance of retaining the block feature as a fundamental tool for online safety.
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Linda Yaccarino, Chief Executive of X, defended Musk’s decision, asserting that the platform is actively working on advanced solutions beyond the existing block and mute functions. As Musk leads the product and engineering teams, Yaccarino will oversee diverse teams, including legal and sales departments.
This decision marks a significant shift for Social Media Platform X, with potential implications for user interactions, content moderation, and the evolving landscape of online communication.X to Remove Account Blocking Feature, Sparking Safety Concerns