Elon Musk announced on Friday that X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, will dramatically limit the ability of users to block other accounts, a move that critics say will allow harassment to flourish on the platform.
“Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs [direct messages],” Mr Musk wrote in a post on X on Friday. “It makes no sense.”
Critics quickly pounced on the move.
“I thought the old Twitter was a pretty negative force for American society, I’m glad it was ‘disrupted’, but removing the ability to block will just encourage the kind of pile-ons that made it bad,” wrote journalist Nate Silver in an X post.
Monica Lewinsky wrote a post of her own tagging Mr Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino, saying, “please rethink removing the block feature. as an anti-bullying activist (and target of harassment) i can assure you it’s a critical tool to keep people safe online. – that woman.” Even some X investors like Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao seemed sceptical.
“X should really solve the bots & spam problems before removing blocks,” he wrote on X. “Just my 0.02.”
As X users flagged in a community note, the removal of the blocking feature, which allows X users to block certain accounts from appearing in their feeds or being visible to others interacting with their content, could run afoul of the policies of the Apple and Google app stores.
“It’s a downward spiral that cannot be good for the long term success of X,” Louis Jones of the Brand Safety Institute told CNBC.
The potential change to the policy is the latest tweak Mr Musk has made to the service since taking it over last year.
Earlier this week, users noticed the X logo had changed on Apple operating systems, appearing with a grunge-style effect over the company’s X symbol.
“The cracks & scratches better represent this product that I love,” Mr Musk wrote of the new design.
The concern over changing the block feature follows a report from The Washington Post that X has been throttling traffic to news sites and competitors.