I want to get off Elon Musk's wild ride. In another series of tweets/posts by the mind behind X (formerly known as Twitter), Musk has promised that the block functionality is going to be "deleted as a 'feature' except for DMs," going on to post that it "makes no sense".
This comes alongside two community notes slapped on to both comments—one of which helpfully points out that both Apple and Google have specific guidelines for this sort of thing. Specifically, Apple requires "The ability to block abusive users from the service", while Google requires "an in-app system for blocking [user generated content] and users".
I think these long-standing rules are a good reminder that block features aren't some great conspiracy theory to silence your political opponents, they're an excruciatingly normal security feature that we now have to have a big discourse about, because Elon Musk doesn't like them.
The other community note points out that block functionality isn't just there to protect users from opinions they don't like—it's a vital defence for victims of stalking or abuse. In response to one of these critics, Musk simply posted the word "Mute", suggesting he thinks people ought to just mute users instead.
It's important to note that, according to Twitter/X's help centre, muting "does not impact the account’s ability to send you a Direct Message", and "replies and mentions by the muted account will still appear in your Notifications tab." Making it legitimately useless as a means to stop harassment. Granted, the "except for DMs" from his original statement at least suggests that part of blocking isn't going anywhere.
Musk also mentioned a "stronger form of mute" back in June, but it feels like we're just rhetorically digging our way back into a block function, here—if a 'stronger mute' does everything that a block does anyway, what's the point? Musk later posted: "Pretty fun blocking people who complain that blocking is going away," followed by "How does the medicine taste?" and two laugh-crying emoji.
This joins another exhibit in Musk's circus of executive decisions since letting the sink in to Twitter HQ—fumbles over rate limits, redundancies, stepping down as CEO, challenging Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight (something they're still publicly beefing about, by the way), and now this. If the cage fight saga's any indication, though, what Musk says and what Musk does are two different things—it's possible the statement's only purpose was to dump gasoline onto X's ongoing fire for kicks.
Otherwise X, it seems, is not going to give it to you. It's going to take away things instead, like basic functionalities the lion's share of social media apps have had for years, for extremely uncontroversial reasons—like the basic protection of their users. The future is now.