I’m not going to give this too much analysis. I don’t have time. Twitter has fundamentally changed what blocking means. It’s bad for several reasons. Here are two:
- Certain Twitter users relentlessly RT people they disagree with, all the better to enable their own followers to ridicule those people and – especially – all the better to intimidate them into silence. This is abuse. It would be nice if victims could prevent their abusers doing it. Let’s be clear: the issue is not that retweets are possible. I know that public tweets can be retweeted anonymously or pseudonymously. The objection is to hostile people retweeting as them, to their equally hostile friends. Think about bullying at school. The worst part wasn’t what individual people said or did. The worst part was the shared contempt the victim felt everyone had for them. There was nowhere for the victims to turn and that’s how bullying works In my case, bullies targeted my previously best friend so that he turned against me in order to get them off his back. This is the sort of behaviour we need to discourage, but exactly the sort of behaviour Twitter has just made easier. Global conglomerate empires, don’t do that.
- It shouldn’t be Twitter deciding (and indiscriminately changing) what blocking means. It should be users. Why can’t users decide the semantics of a particular block? Some people I just don’t want to hear from again. Some people I don’t want following or retweeting me because they are bullies. Why isn’t that my decision?