Elon Musk, the owner of X, announced that the blocking feature will be removed from the platform of the popular microblogging site. The billionaire said that the block feature “makes no sense” and will only be kept for direct messages (DMs) in a post on the defunct Twitter. The blocking feature is an essential tool for safeguarding users from unwelcome attention.

This is an unexpected development, especially considering that the block feature on the social media platform is a safeguard for users. Elon Musk repeatedly portrayed himself as a fervent supporter of free speech, frequently referring to himself as a “free speech absolutist.” However, given the increase in hate speech and destructive content on the site since he took office, this position is likely to face criticism from a variety of sources. A hostile climate that disproportionately affects marginalized people can be fostered by a lack of robust moderation and safety measures, it can be argued.

“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs,” Musk said in a post, adding that X will continue to retain the mute function, which screens a user from seeing specified accounts but, unlike blocking, does not alert the other account to the action.

Reactions to Musk’s Decision and Potential Ramifications for X

Jack Dorsey, the former founder of Twitter, seemed to support Musk’s decision, saying, “100%. Mute only. However, consumers’ perspectives vary. Some support Musk’s decision by praising free speech and criticizing echo chambers. Others passionately oppose it, emphasizing the adverse impacts on user safety. The removal of the blocking capability can cause X’s user base and reputation to become more divisive.

Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, defended Musk’s decision by emphasizing the company’s commitment to user safety and its intent to develop improved replacements for the current blocking and muting functions. “Our users’ safety on X is our number one priority. And we’re building something better than the current state of block and mute. Please keep the feedback coming,” Yaccarino posted.

Removal of the blocking option would put X in conflict with the guidelines set up by app store like Apple’s app Store and Alphabet’s Google Play. Both stores stipulate that apps that contain user-generated content offer tools for blocking offensive users and user-generated content. If these rules are broken, X might be taken off of these app stores, which would limit the number of users it might reach.

The change raises concerns about online safety as the feature is so important in avoiding abuse, stalking, and harassment. Blocking stops users from interacting, viewing posts, or tracking an account, in contrast to the mute feature, which simply muffles notifications. The move prompted concerns that users might face prolonged harassment without recourse in the absence of an effective blocking mechanism.


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