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Posts Tagged ‘Abuse’

A Block On Twitter Isn't A Block At All

In my article “Why Replies On Twitter Are Far More Damaging Than Direct Messages“, I address the limitations of the block feature on Twitter. As Twitter’s help portal states:

Blocking someone means that you (and your pic) will not appear on the blocked party’s profile page, friends time line, badge, or anywhere else. The person will not be notified that they’ve been blocked, and they will be unable to follow you. If your account is public, the blocked party can still view your profile page, but can’t receive your updates in their timeline or on their phone.

This is all well and good, but as a system it’s an extremely casual approach to a much bigger problem. When you block somebody, they can still:

  • Read your timeline
  • Send you @replies, which are still visible to everybody else, and remain within Twitter search, and will be delivered to you if you have a search for your replies configured on Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck
  • Re-tweet your messages, which can give the impression to others that you are ‘friends’

TrollIf you’ve had experience as a bulletin board administrator, you’ll know that when you properly block somebody, you have the facility to stop the person from reading anything on the forum (assuming half-decent, standardised software). With plugins, you have the same powers when you run a blog. Likewise, when you block somebody on Facebook, that’s it for them. They can’t read anything you’ve said. You simply disappear.

Why Is It Different On Twitter?

So, why is it different on Twitter? Why does it need to be? I can’t think of any reason why somebody would think the block system as it stands is acceptable. Twitter’s block is a bit like taking out a restraining order on somebody, and then letting them watch you on a webcam.

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Your Reputation On Twitter Matters – Why Is There No @Abuse Team For Defamation?

About six weeks ago I wrote an article on Twittercism entitled, “Why Replies On Twitter Are Far More Damaging Than Direct Messages“. The general point was that while various protective measures are applied to the direct message system to prevent abuse, anybody can send a reply to anybody else on Twitter, whether you’re following each other, or not.

Moreover, those replies, even if one or both of the parties has blocked the other, go into the Twitter stream, and are viewable by anybody else on the platform, through search, and so on. So, you can essentially say whatever you like, and it remains ‘out there’.

This is a big problem for Twitter, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.

Check out Twitter’s terms of service (a one-page summary is viewable here). Twitter provides legislation about the use of the platform in various ways, including (direct quotes):

  • Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others
  • Privacy: You may not publish or post other people’s private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission.
  • Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.

This is all fine, and there are various other service limitations that I encourage you to read. The problem is that none of them in any way concern the problem of defamation; that is, one user saying something libellous about another.

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