Change to Twitter's blocking policy has users up in arms

Blocking someone used to mean that they could no longer follow you. But now it means you can't see their Twitter activity, but they can see yours.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
James Martin/CNET

If you thought that blocking someone on Twitter meant that they could no longer see your tweets, think again.

While that was formerly the case, an update to the Twitter service appears to have changed the way blocking works. Now, blocking someone means that you will not see any of their activity, but they can still see everything you do. Essentially, you're just muting them.

"If your account is public," Twitter wrote in its new blocking policy, "blocking a user does not prevent that user from following you, interacting with your Tweets, or receiving your updates in their timeline."

Twitter told CNET that the new policy was actually meant to help people from being trolled by those they've blocked. What Twitter had found was that when someone blocked another person, the blockee would often be upset when they would discover it, and would go on to troll the blocker in other ways, often aggressively.

With the new system, blockees have no idea they've been blocked, and those doing the blocking simply cannot see any Twitter activity from the person they're trying to avoid.

But as Twitter user Tom Freeman put it, "Twitter has just scrapped the most important aspect of blocking."

Indeed, there is a growing outcry on Twitter of people realizing that the feature has changed. One of the most common sentiments seems to be that blocking -- formerly a way to stop someone, say, a stalker, from seeing what you're doing -- is no longer helpful in that regard.

But Twitter's position is that even when someone was blocked, there was no way to stop that person from seeing the blocker's public profile. In other words, because even logged-out users, or someone who has never even signed up for Twitter, can see any public account, blocking did not previously keep anyone from seeing someone's public tweets.