Twitter Reverses Course on Blocking Feature After Major Backlash

Twitter reverses course on new feature after users speak out.

December 13, 2013, 11:29 AM
PHOTO: Twitter
The microblogging site Twitter is displayed on the internet, Sept. 13, 2013.
Mary Turner/Getty Images

Dec. 13, 2013 — -- Turns out not everything on Twitter is forever.

Twitter made a change to its "block" feature on Thursday, but then backtracked later in the day after an uproar among users.

The block feature has worked like this: When you block a user, it blocks them from following you or sending you messages. If you've been blocked, you know it because you cannot follow that person. However, a change made on Thursday allowed a user you have blocked to follow you or reply to your messages. It really just allowed the person who blocked you to stop seeing the messages in their timeline.

After the change was made, it didn't take long for users to start expressing their dislike for the feature. "So Twitter's block tweaks mean that blocking is pretty much muting now? How rubbish," @LauraSparling tweeted. Her tweet was re-tweeted over 100 times. The hashtag #RestoreTheBlock also began to catch on.

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After seeing the backlash, Twitter quickly reverted back to the previous blocking feature. "We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users -- we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe," Twitter's VP of Product Michael Sippey said in a blog post published on Thursday evening.

He did address that Twitter still doesn't think this is an ideal solution since some users retaliate after realizing they have been blocked, but he said the company will "continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation."

This is the second time in two months that Twitter has gone back on a new feature that impacted user privacy. In November, the company began allowing users to send direct messages to anyone, even people that didn't follow them. It went back on that feature as well.

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