The only time that I have ever used Twitter’s block function is when reporting spam (because they force you to block the person you are reporting). Beyond that, I have never used it.
The reason is simple: if your block feature tells people that I’ve blocked them, I’m not using it.
Telling a Harasser You Blocked Them Accomplishes Nothing
While Twitter’s block function does remove that person from your sight (when you are logged in), it also removes you from their sight by forcing an unfollow. If you have a public profile and they visit your profile specifically, they can still see your tweets and attempt to follow you. When they try, Twitter tells them they have been blocked, as you can see in the screenshot at the top of this post.
I have a public Twitter account. Everyone can see what I post. Preventing them from following me means nothing.
What I don’t want to do is give them attention or satisfaction. To do so is to acknowledge them, to further a dialogue, to encourage them to talk about how I blocked them. That is why a block function that notifies the person I have blocked is worthless to me.
Twitter Changed This… Temporarily
Back in December, Twitter changed their block feature so that it would do exactly what I wanted. Understandably, some people were unhappy with this as they liked the old way it worked. Twitter changed it back. I had a conversation with my friend Jared and he wondered why they didn’t just introduce a mute feature.
@patrickokeefe Indeed. I don’t understand, though, why this feature couldn’t be implemented as “Mute” much like other third-party clients do
— Jared Smith (@jaredwsmith) December 13, 2013
Certainly, with apps like TweetDeck, you could mute people. But it was in the app only – why not make it native? Well, today is that day.
Twitter has announced that they have begun rolling out a new mute feature. It’ll do exactly what I want. You can mute people and remove them from your stream completely, but they won’t know I have done it.
I think this will help a lot of people, including those who are being harassed. A persistent harasser doesn’t stop because you forced them to “unfollow” you. They don’t see Twitter’s notice and think “oh well, I guess that’s over. I’ll go be a decent person now.” It just doesn’t work that way. They just create more accounts – and more work for you. If you advertise to them that you have blocked them, you invite more harassment. Not less. For many, a silent mute will be more effective.