• Future Social
  • Posts
  • Why Twitter removing blocking is bad for brands

Why Twitter removing blocking is bad for brands

The move would nuke community management

I’ve never seen someone get in their own way as much as Elon Musk. The guy’s lost billions through his Twitter reign of terror, admitting ad revenue is down a devastating 50% since he bought the site (some might say because he bought the site). On good days, he’ll claim luring advertisers back is his primary focus… then on a random Sunday decide Twitter is now called X without any official news, change the logo twice in 48 hours, and wonder why we can’t take him seriously.

He’s really spit in the punch bowl this time, though. Out of nowhere, he’s decided Twitter should remove the blocking feature. That’s a bad idea for about 8123 reasons, both for the site’s average user and the brands he supposed hopes drop cash on advertising. Now we have to dig into:

  • Why Elon would remove blocking

  • What it means for brands

  • What it means for users

Wait, Elon is actually removing blocking?!

Not only is he removing blocking, but he’s making fun of anyone who complains about it, and blocking them.

The petulant child hasn’t explained his reasoning. This all started out of nowhere when he randomly replied to—wait for it—a Tesla Owners club, stating “block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs.” Even stranger, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey agreed, tweeting “💯. mute only.” Twitter went into an understandable tizzy over it, myself included—I’ve got 972 accounts blocked (I’m not tolerance on negativity).

The only elaboration we’ve received: he seems to think muting accounts covers what blocking should do, though he admits muting is “partly broken” as well.

Are blocking and muting the same?

No, of course they aren’t. In their current forms there are major differences.

When you block a user, they no longer can follow your content or reply to your tweets. That second half is important—blocking cuts them off not only from you, but everyone else who engages with your content.

If you mute a user, you won’t see their tweets or their replies to you, but they can still reply and engage with people replying to you. You can’t effectively community manage if you can’t get a rogue users out of your replies. That’s a colossal issue if you’re a brand who wants to ensure wholesome chats between your followers. It’s an even bigger problem if you’re in an

Elon + various members of his product team have tweeted that mute functionality would need to get “stronger,” but haven’t said what areas they plan to improve. Reading between the lines—I don’t anticipate the above being changed. Musk’s misguided definition of free speech often includes allowing anyone to shout anything at anyone else.

Twitter actually tried this once. It went badly.

Back in 2013, Twitter turned the block function into muting.

It lasted 24 hours.

User backlash was so severe that an emergency executive meeting was held the same night, resulting in blocking’s return and a tail-between-the-legs blogpost stating “we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe.” Don’t think that’s a sentence we’d ever hear from the new regime.

What should brands do if Twitter removes blocking?

My stance on “should your brand be on [insert social network here]” usually comes down to existing following & addressable market. Despite all of Elon’s Twitter nonsense to date, I’ve advised brands stay the course with organic content—you developed engaged audiences, you’ve been effective with organic, abandoning the platform doesn’t make much sense, and Twitter competitors like bluesky are still microscopic.

If Elon removes blocking from Twitter, I can’t in good faith call the platform brand safe. One bad apple can spoil the barrel. If a brand can’t stop a user from replying to their tweets, a brand can’t effectively community manage. There won’t be any recourse for stopping a rascal user from tweeting rumors or lies, or worse, slurs & hateful messaging.

If I had a brand with a following, would I stop tweeting? Honestly, probably not, but I’d monitor the situation incredibly closely, and wouldn’t have a rebuttal if the company decided it’s not worth the risk.

If I was a new brand starting social media, would I join Twitter? No. Definitely not. I’d focus on pretty much any other social network with an emphasis on video content—TikTok or Instagram come to mind. And if I wanted to start a personal brand about my career, I’d focus on LinkedIn, not Twitter.