Elon Musk made a shocking comment on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Friday when he said that ‘block’ as a feature will be deleted on the platform. That means users will not be able to block any other user on the platform, no matter if they spam or troll. The billionaire is known for his dislike of general social networking features, and he has repeatedly expressed his feelings about it. However, getting rid of the blocking feature might not be that easy, even for the owner of one of the largest social media platforms.
Musk was replying to a tweet that asked the question if there was ever a reason to block someone over muting them, when he said, “Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs”. He also added, “It makes no sense”. One could think that Musk made the comment in the heat of the moment and does not really intend to take away one of the most basic features of any social media. But you would be wrong.
He said the same thing in June 2023 in a tweet, “Blocking public posts makes no sense. It needs to be deprecated in favor of a stronger form of mute”. And he has also complained about large blocking lists for messing up the recommendation system. He has also spoken in support of users who have criticized mass-blocking campaigns in the past.
And all of this points out that Musk perhaps really wants to get rid of the block feature. Being a ‘free speech’ activist since before his days as the owner of the platform, Musk has advocated for X to be more like a town square where people interact and discuss instead of blocking them or asking for someone to be banned for their views. However, it is easier said than done.
The feature to block someone has existed since the very early days of the internet because developers understood that protecting the users on a platform is a big responsibility. With spammers, trolls, stalkers, and malicious people existing everywhere, people sometimes just want to feel safe and an effective way of doing that is by blocking them.
“Block is a form of moderation for users,” Daniel Rubino, editor-in-chief of Windows Central said, reacting to Musk’s tweet. And the problem is not just a moral one.
Both Apple and Google have rules in their terms and conditions that require social media apps on the App Store and the Play Store to have some form of blocking feature available to the users. Picking a battle with the platforming giants may not be something Musk would want to do right now, at a time when he is actively trying to build his everything app and gain more users and advertisers.
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