Twitter restores blocking function after outcry

10:17 AM, Dec 13, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +



HONG KONG (CNNMoney) - Twitter said late Thursday that it had reversed course after an intense public outcry and will restore a feature that allows users to "block" unwanted followers.

The company was responding to a virtual revolt led by users who had experienced harassment on the popular social media network.

The offending change removed the ability of individuals to block unwanted followers and hide tweets from that user. Instead, the new rules rendered any blocked account invisible to the user -- similar in function to a "mute" button.

The new policy created the possibility that an abusive user would be able to continue their behavior -- but the target would be unaware.

Critics of the new policy said it was the digital equivalent of wearing a blindfold or plugging your ears. The practice, they said, would have questionable benefits to victims of abuse.

Related story: Instagram launches direct messaging

Twitter (TWTR) countered that the new policy would help users who wanted to silence abusive users, but feared retaliation when the offender noticed they had been blocked.

Company executives met Thursday night in San Francisco to discuss the outcry, according to Reuters. A short time later, Twitter said it would reverse the changes.

"We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users," Michael Sippey, vice president of product, said in a blog post. "We never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe."

The company said it would continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation. Users still have the option to make their account "private," which restricts all content to approved followers.

Related story: Why I'm quitting social media

The backlash comes after Twitter pledged in August to implement changes that would make its users safer.

In that case, the company was responding to rape threats made against prominent women in the United Kingdom and bomb threats made against journalists.

In response, Twitter introduced an "in-tweet" report abuse button and added extra staff to the teams that handle abuse reports. 

Check out some of our most read stories from 2013:

#shortyellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights

Terrorism Warning: Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Florida flights

Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children

Courtroom apology: Woman apologizes for flipping off judge

Weird ice: Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond

Controversial Club: College student organizes "White Student Union"

CFO Trouble: School administrative chief in trouble over her porn sex blog

Warning Shot Wife: Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband

Science Arrest: Teen girl arrested over science project explosion

Wait, WHAT?? Dog shoots man in the leg with a handgun

Popular photo galleries:

Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers

Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos 

Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant

Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***

Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole

Popular Databases:

Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here

Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here

Most Watched Videos