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Elon Musk says users on X, formerly Twitter, will lose ability to block unwanted followers, eliminating key safety feature

Elon Musk says users on X, formerly Twitter, will lose ability to block unwanted followers, eliminating key safety feature

In a recent announcement, Elon Musk, the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, revealed a significant change that has left many users concerned about online safety. According to Musk’s post on Friday, X users will no longer have the option to block comments from unwanted followers, a feature that has been considered a crucial tool for maintaining a safe online environment. This decision, seen as a departure from a key safety feature, has raised questions and criticisms from various quarters.

In his post, Musk stated that the block feature, with the exception of Direct Messages (DMs), will be removed as a feature from X. This decision came in response to a query from the account of Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, a group associated with promoting Tesla, a company where Musk holds the position of CEO. The move to eliminate the block function follows Musk’s substantial overhaul of the platform since his acquisition of Twitter last year for $44 billion. These changes have included employee layoffs, the reinstatement of previously banned accounts, and a recent rebranding of the platform as X.

While Musk did not provide specific reasons or a timeline for this change, he did assert that “it makes no sense.” This decision has sparked concerns among users who have relied on the block function to shield themselves from hateful content and online harassment stemming from their posts. The block feature has been instrumental in preventing undesirable responses from appearing on a user’s feed. In contrast, the mute function only hides these responses from the individual user, allowing them to persist in others’ feeds.

Users have also traditionally utilized the block feature for purposes beyond personal safety. For instance, they’ve employed it during boycotts and to avoid advertisements from specific brands or promoters on the platform. This multifaceted utility underscores the significance of the block function as a tool for enhancing user experience and managing interactions.

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance and an investor in the revamped Twitter under its new guise as X took to the platform to voice his reservations. Zhao emphasized that before removing the block feature, X should prioritize tackling issues like spam and bot-related problems. He highlighted the importance of addressing these challenges to ensure a higher-quality user experience.

Louis Jones, an experienced figure in media and advertising who currently serves at the Brand Safety Institute, voiced concerns about Musk’s approach to free speech on the platform. Jones argued that Musk’s decision could lead to an unfortunate double effect: an increase in bullying behavior on the platform and a potential silencing of free speech among users who become targets of bullies and predators. This perceived lax approach to maintaining a safe online space is seen as a potential cause for worry, as it might have negative repercussions for the platform’s long-term success.

In light of this decision, users, experts, and investors are closely watching how the X platform evolves and adapts to the potential challenges that may arise due to the removal of the block feature. The move has sparked a broader conversation about the delicate balance between fostering free expression and ensuring a safe online environment for all users.


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