Elon Musk, the tech magnate who recently took over Twitter, now rebranded as X, has once again voiced his intention to remove the platform's block feature. In a recent post on X, Musk stated, “Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs,” further emphasizing his point with another post that read, “It makes no sense.”
This isn't the first time Musk has expressed his aversion to the block feature. Back in June, he suggested that Twitter should replace the block function with “a stronger form of mute.” He has also previously voiced concerns about large block lists and mass blocking campaigns targeting users who subscribe to Twitter Blue. However, Musk's track record includes a series of promises that have either been delayed or never came to fruition. Given this, the removal of the block feature might face significant resistance from the platform's user base.
The block feature offers users, especially those with a high profile, a way to manage and curtail harassment, as well as to filter out spam from their replies. When Bluesky, a microblogging competitor, launched without a block button, the backlash was swift, leading to its quick reintroduction. As Daniel Rubino, editor-in-chief of Windows Central, pointed out, “Block is a form of moderation for users.” While muting is an alternative, it doesn't prevent users from viewing posts or leaving replies that others can see.
Musk's vision for X and Twitter seems to be a platform that champions unfettered communication, fostering a digital arena for free expression. However, implementing this vision might not be straightforward. Both Apple and Google have guidelines suggesting that social networking apps should provide a block feature. While Musk is known for his disregard for convention, he has previously refrained from directly challenging Apple.
Furthermore, the technical challenges of removing the block feature could be significant. Musk has previously expressed concerns about the stability of the old Twitter codebase, especially after reducing the number of employees, including key technical team members. Removing such a fundamental feature could introduce unforeseen complications for a platform that has already experienced significant outages.
Nevertheless, X continues to evolve under Musk's leadership. Recent changes include the introduction of a paywall for TweetDeck (now known as X Pro) and reports of the platform throttling links to certain sites. While the removal of the block feature isn't guaranteed, it remains a possibility in the ever-changing landscape of X.