Twitter has received a wide criticism for temporarily changing its ‘blocking’ policy.

Originally, the blocking featured allowed one to forbid any other user from ‘following’ and removed the blocked user from seeing one’s mentions and timeline. Although the feature was imperfect, it was often utilized by many victims of cyberbullying to curtail the harassment they received.

However, in an effort to balance openness and safety, Twitter altered its blocking settings. In describing the new policy, the company stated: “If your account is public, blocking a user does not prevent that user from following you, interacting with your Tweets, or receiving your updates in their timeline. If your Tweets are protected, blocking the user will cause them to unfollow you.”

Zerlina Maxwell, a feminist freelance writer who receives numerous rape and death threats on Twitter and often utilized the ‘block’ button, was distraught when she found out how easily the new policy allowed the harassers to continue cyberbullying. She was disappointed in the company’s lack of respect for its female, and cyberbullied users, and started an online petition on, which gathered more than thousand signatures in the first few hours, to pressure Twitter into reverting back to the old policy.

In the end, after a wide backlash from its users, Twitter withdrew the change.

“… we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe,” the company stated.


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