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Twitter announces about-face on controversial new blocking rules

A firestorm had erupted after the social network relaxed blocking rules, allowing blocked users to see everything the blocker tweeted.

After ruffling the feathers of Twitter users with a controversial new user-blocking policy, the microblogging site appears to have heard the growing discontent and reverted to its original policy.

A new policy that came to light earlier Thursday changed the way blocking worked on the social networking site. Formerly, blocking someone on Twitter had meant that they could no longer see your tweets, but the change meant that blocked users could still see everything the blocker did.

"We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users -- we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect," Twitter said in a company blog post.

In reverting this change to the block function, users will once again be able to tell that they've been blocked. We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users (and sometimes their friends) that often occurs. Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation.

The revised policy stated that blocking another user from a public account "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.

A growing outcry arose Thursday from Twitter users critical of the change in policy. One of the most common complaints was that a tool formerly useful in preventing a stalker from seeing what you're doing was no longer helpful in that regard.

The new policy proved so unpopular with some Twitter users that an online petition quickly sprang up that called on Twitter to rethink the change in policy. In the course of just a few hours, more than 1,800 people signed the petition. However, Twitter had earlier told CNET that any kind of change was likely to upset some users and that they shouldn't expect the company to pull back on the change.

CNET's Daniel Terdiman contributed to this report.