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HomeAnonymousWill Musk’s Scraping of Blocking Feature from ‘X’ Remove i…

Will Musk’s Scraping of Blocking Feature from ‘X’ Remove i…


Elon Musk has said the microblogging site X, formerly known as Twitter, will remove a protective feature that lets users block other accounts.

“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs [direct messages],” Musk said in a post on X, adding later, “It makes no sense.”

The block feature allows an X user to restrict accounts they like from contacting them, seeing their posts or following them on the social media platform.

However, the platform would retain the mute function, which screens a user from seeing specified accounts but, unlike blocking, does not alert the other account to the action.

Why Elon Musk’s Move Controversial?

Removing blocking feature can reshape the way users connect, communicate and coexist in the microblogging site. There have been renewed concerns over some fraudsters impersonating, abusing, and harassing uses on social media.

Users have been resorting to this block feature as a means of defense against harassment, threats or stalking within the platform.

However, X is trying to convey that there will be “a stronger form of mute” in place of blocking. Currently, the mute function of the platform hides individual accounts that users don’t want to interact to on their timeline.

“We can make mutes stronger, like not allow people you mute to reply or quote you. We can also transfer [your] block list to mute list,” Aqueel Miqdad, a software engineer at X, suggested in a post.

Musk has repeatedly cited a desire for free speech as motivating his changes, and lashed out at what he sees as the threat posed to free expression by changing cultural sensitivities. But some critics have said his approach is irresponsible.

Researchers have found an increase in hate speech and antisemitic content on the platform since he took over and some governments have accused the company of not doing enough to moderate the content.

Will X be Removed from Google Play Store and Apple?

Musk’s move to remove the block feature might bring the microblogging app into conflict with guidelines incorporated by Apple’s App Store and Alphabet’s Google Play. Both Apple and Google have policies stating that an app must allow a user to “block” another.

According to Apple rules, apps with user-generated content must have the ability to block abusive users.

The Apple guidelines regarding safety of user-generated content states “Apps with user-generated content present particular challenges, ranging from intellectual property infringement to anonymous bullying. To prevent abuse, apps with user-generated content or social networking services must include … The ability to block abusive users from the service.”

Similarly, Google Play Store states that apps must provide an in-app system for blocking user-generated content and users.

Google’s rules of User Generated Content states, “Apps that contain or feature UGC, including apps which are specialized browsers or clients to direct users to a UGC platform, must implement robust, effective, and ongoing UGC moderation that… Provides an in-app system for blocking UGC and users.”

However, the two companies have not issued any statement so far and have not immediately replied to comments.

Apple recently made an exception to another policy by allowing the renaming of Twitter as X to appear in the app’s title despite failing to reach the number of letters required for a title. However, it isn’t clear if Apple could make another exception to X in view of its popularity.

Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino defended Elon Musk’s move and stressed that users’ safety is their “number one priority.”

Responding to a post from anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky urging X to keep the “critical tool to keep people safe online“, Linda Yaccarino said, “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.”

With inputs from agencies

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