Many companies continue with their plans despite users being against something, but this is not the case for Twitter. The social media site recently announced a change to its “block” feature, which would lead to blocked users still being able to harass their victims. However, Twitter users revolted over the change to the “block” feature due to security issues, and it appears that they have won; at least, for the time being.
The initial change was made to help protect victims of abuse. The micro-blogging website wanted to allow users to block their attackers, but avoid retaliation. The blocked user would not know about the virtual wall in place and would be able to continue to send messages, follow and interact with the user. The innocent user would not see any of these messages, as if they were never being sent.
Many Twitter fans rallied together over the changes, fearing that it gave the attackers too much power. Users believed that they would not be safe on the website, and over 1,500 signatures were collected through a Change.org petition. The social media site decided that it was best to revert the changes.
Some of the initial changes were actually requested by users. People did not want to alert those they were blocking about the actions. There were fears that it would lead to retaliation. A spam or troll user would be able to create a new account and harass through that method. It was the other changes, were users would still be able to interact, that led to the Twitter users revolting over the “block” feature and winning.
One of the major changes that users did not like was that blocked users were still be able to see someone’s updates. The only way to hide those updates was to report someone as spam. This had not been made clear by the company, and was only found after going through the page that details everything the “report as spam” function would do.
One user equated the changes as being given a blindfold by police when reporting a stalker. Instead of being protected from the stalker, a user would just not see the words being tweeted. However, it is still happening, which continues to give the stalker the power.
The U-turn on the policy change was quick, and many users are extremely happy. Instead of complaining that Twitter should not have introduced such a change, many users are thanking the company for listening. However, this does show the dilemma that social networking sites are in when it comes to abuse. The company was trying to do the best for the victims by avoiding the possible retaliation.
Twitter is continuing to look into its “block” feature and user protection, but for now revolting users have won. It is difficult to find a fine balance between preventing spammers, trolls, and abusive users, while protecting victims from future abuse. By making changes to the policy, as least the company is showing that it listens to its users, unlike other social networking website.
By Alexandria Ingham