There is no implementation date, but Elon Musk has announced the intention that the function of blocking a user will disappear from X (formerly Twitter), except in direct messages. And until today, each and every one of the novelties that the owner of this social network has announced have become reality after a very short time.
Musk added that X will retain the mute feature, which prevents a user from seeing specific accounts but, unlike blocking, doesn't alert the other account to the action.
According to Musk, blocking is a function that "makes no sense". And clearly that can be true for an ultra-defender of free speech, which is how he's presented himself to the world since he bought X a year ago. But for the thousands of people who suffer public harassment on this social network, being able to block their harassers was a relief. In fact, under the decision to acquire the social network, the billionaire wielded the idea of promoting freedom of expression as much as possible.
But according to the Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), hateful and anti-Semitic messages have once again flourished on the platform since Musk took over in the fall, making X — which has filed a complaint against the CCDH – denies it is true. Some governments have also criticized X for not doing enough to moderate its content.
Along the same lines, in response to a post by now anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky urging X to keep this "important tool to keep people safe," the company's chief executive, Linda Yaccarino, defended Musk's move and hinted that the platform would be designing other systems to safeguard its users from inappropriate behavior, but did not go into details. “The safety of our users at X is our number one priority. And we are building something better than the current blocking and silencing", assured Yaccarino.
On the other hand, removing or limiting the lock feature could put the X in trouble with the rules that Apple's App Store and Alphabet's Google Play have recently set for an app to be there.
In this regard, Apple says that applications with user-generated content must have the ability to block abusive users. For its part, the Google Play Store states that applications must provide a system, in the application itself, to block user-generated content. Depending on how, this possibility remains unchanged, since the same platform can temporarily or permanently block a user.
Mute and block are not the only option that users of X - or any other social network - have to protect themselves. There is always the option to report a user directly to X and trust that this network will take some disciplinary action if it believes that the reported user has violated the rules of use of the application.
The problem is that both the definition of what is acceptable and what is not in X, as well as the decision on whether or not a behavior conforms to this definition, remains in the hands of the social network, which at the moment amounts to saying which is in the hands of Elon Musk. And the tycoon has proven to be quite fickle in this regard.
The decision to allow, in December, the return of former president Donald Trump, banned from the platform at the beginning of 2021 for his role in the attack on the Capitol, is contrasted with that of suspending, in the fall, that of rapper Kayne West, who posted an image showing a swastika intertwined with a Star of David.