In a recent controversial decision, Elon Musk, the owner of social media company X (formerly known as Twitter), has announced the removal of a key protective feature that allows users to block other accounts.
This move comes as another significant change under Musk’s leadership since he acquired the company last year. The block feature on X enables users to prevent specific accounts from contacting them, viewing their posts, or following them. Musk, in a post on the platform, revealed that the block function will no longer be available as a feature, except for direct messages (DMs).
He emphasized that the mute function, which shields users from seeing content from designated accounts without alerting the other party, will still be retained.
Elon Musk has identified himself as a proponent of unrestricted free speech, a stance that has drawn criticism from some quarters. Detractors argue that his approach lacks responsibility, particularly as researchers have observed an increase in hate speech on the platform since Musk took control. Several governments have also accused the company of inadequate content moderation efforts.
The decision to remove or limit the block feature could potentially put X in conflict with the guidelines set by Apple’s App Store and Alphabet’s Google Play. According to Apple, apps featuring user-generated content are required to incorporate mechanisms for blocking abusive users. Similarly, Google Play Store mandates that apps offer an in-app system for blocking both user-generated content and users.
As of now, X, Google, and Apple have not responded to requests for comments regarding this matter. Responding to a post by anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky, who urged X to retain the “critical tool” for ensuring online safety, Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino defended Musk’s decision. Yaccarino affirmed the company’s commitment to user safety and stated that they are working on developing an improved alternative to the current block and mute functionalities.
Under this new organizational structure, Elon Musk will lead the product and engineering teams, while Linda Yaccarino will oversee all other divisions, including legal and sales. This shift aims to position X for a future that aligns with Musk’s vision for the platform.