In the span of just one day, Twitter made a pretty significant change to a major element of privacy on the site, took a bunch of heat from users, and quickly reverted all changes.
Early Thursday, Twitter made a tweak to how blocking works on the site. In short, what Twitter did was to make blocking a user work more like muting a user. With the change, blocked users could still follow, retweet, and @mention the users who block them - but the blocker simply wouldn't see all of this. It was kind of the Twitter equivalent of "you're dead to me." But a blocked user could still follow you - and they wouldn't even be notified if they had been blocked.
Of course, this is wildly different from Twitter's normal rules for blocked users which basically disallows them from having any interactions with the blocker.
Well, there was some backlash - a lot of it. I mean, for example....
thanks for changing how blocking works, twitter. the guy who sent me 100s of msgs threatening to rape+mutilate me will be glad
— Amber Eeeeeee (@rare_basement) December 12, 2013
— Warren Ellis (@warrenellis) December 13, 2013
Things like new Twitter block policy are result of a tech community that's 99% white straight male, aka group least likely to be stalked.
— Danielle (@DCPlod) December 12, 2013
Yeah. So late last night Twitter backtracked:
"Earlier today, we made a change to the way the 'block' function of Twitter works. We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users – we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect," said Twitter VP of Product Michael Sippey in a blog post.
"In reverting this change to the block function, users will once again be able to tell that they’ve been blocked. We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users (and sometimes their friends) that often occurs. Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation."
In the end, despite the ill-advised push to change a major privacy setting, I guess Twitter can be commended for listening to the angry masses.