X Looks To Water Down Blocking To Increase Transparency

Elon Musk has been promising to remove the block option entirely on X (formerly Twitter) for months, and now, the X team seems to have come up with a compromise, as it looks to align with app store requirements, while reducing the impact of blocking in the app.

As explained by X:

We are making changes to how block works. If a user who has blocked you replies to one of your posts, you will now be able to see their reply. This change enables you to identify and report any potential bad content that you previously could not view, safeguarding both your account and the overall integrity of our platform.”

So, to clarify, right now, when you’ve blocked an account on X, you can still view that profile’s posts, if you choose.

X block example

By tapping on “View Posts” here, I can still look at this profile’s content, and I can even reply and engage with their posts. But I’ve also blocked them, so they won’t actually see my reply. Which is really a flaw in X’s blocking system, as I shouldn’t be able to view their posts while they’re blocked. But rather than fix that element, X is looking to water down blocking instead.


Because Elon doesn’t like blocking, and doesn’t think that people should be able to block others completely.

Which he’s mentioned several times.

If you’re running a big account, which is being blocked by many users, this particular flaw would be especially annoying, because people could be talking smack about you, without you even knowing, and with no option to reply. 

Another key point of contention here is that even if a block is in place, if an account is posting publicly, anyone can still see their content by logging out and viewing their profile. So for example, if Elon blocked me, I could still see his posts because they’re available to the public. So blocking, in that sense, is largely irrelevant.

And there’s not really any way around that, but even so blocking does give users a means to restrict certain profiles from interacting with them, so it still serves an important purpose.

Though I can see why Elon and Co. don’t think they’re effective, especially because they often enable the block-er to make snide remarks and attacks without the creator even knowing,

If someone who blocks you can still weigh in and comment on your posts, and you can’t see that response, that seems like a weakness, but again, the problem is more with X’s blocking system, not with the functionality itself.

Elon, meanwhile, has suggested several times that “Mute” is a better solution than blocking someone in the app, while also suggesting that a “stronger mute” could replace blocking entirely.

Though that, again, would violate App and Play Store rules, which state that:

Apps that provide access to publicly accessible UGC, such as social networking apps and blogger apps, must implement in-app functionality to report users and content, and to block users.”

The only element that you could maybe argue here is that this wording doesn’t exactly stipulate what “block” entails, though the impetus suggests that users need to be given the capacity be able to block others, if they choose.

With that in mind, my guess would be that X will actually have to roll back this change, and instead improve its block option to ensure that users can better separate themselves from selected profiles, if they choose.

But still, X is going to try it out anyway, as part, it says, of its “ongoing commitment to aligning the block feature with our principles as a public town square.”

“Our goal is to allow users to control their experience while maintaining the public visibility of posts.

Really, I think this update only highlights the flaws of X’s own system, not an issue with blocking in itself, though I do also take the point that X users can still access public posts either way, even if a block is in place.

Elon has also criticized public block lists, or mass collections of accounts that users can block all at once, which he’s previously claimed “mess up the recommendation system & create a DDoS vector.”

Which, again, sounds like an X problem, not an issue with the functionality. And while the app stores require this to be an option, I’m not sure that Elon and Co. are going to be able to remove blocking as they want.

But, they’re trying something. I don’t think it’ll stand for long, but it could be one way to lessen users’ capacity to block others outright.

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