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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter block’

Twitter Now Lets You See A List of Everyone You’ve Blocked

Twitter Now Lets You See A List of Everyone You’ve Blocked

Twitter rolled out a couple of big safety updates yesterday, one of which was a new feature that lets you see who you’ve blocked on the platform.

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Where They Burn Tweets, They Will Ultimately Burn People

In January 2011, Twitter wrote a fairly inspiring blog post entitled The Tweets Must Flow.

In the entry, crafted by Twitter co-founder (and then creative director) Biz Stone and general counsel Alex Macgillivray, wrote about the importance of preserving “the open exchange of information”, and that “almost every country in the world agrees that freedom of expression is a human right”.

Now, in a new update to this policy, Twitter appears to have done a one-eighty on its stance towards freedom of expression, as the platform now has the facility to withhold tweets from users in an entire, specified country – while keeping that content available to the rest of the world.

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How Twitter Could Fix Their Useless Block Function With One Simple Change

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about Twitter’s decidedly useless block functionality, that stated the reasons why this ‘block’ isn’t actually a block at all. Why? Because it doesn’t actually block anything.

Block somebody on Twitter and they can still read your timeline, send you replies and retweet your messages, giving the impression to others that you are still friends. So unless you take the rather drastic step of making your timeline completely private, which is overkill and a bad idea for most users, certainly if they want to use Twitter for business, a block is almost a complete waste of time.

The article resonated with readers, and is actually the most popular piece I’ve ever written, traffic-wise, ranking highly on Google for a number of related keyword searches. And with the news this week that a change in Californian law may force social networking sites to review their privacy policy, this is a great time for Twitter to step up, do the right thing and implement a block system that actually works.

And there’s a really simple way they could do it. In fact, all it needs is one extra checkbox in your settings.

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How Many People Have You Blocked On Twitter? And Who Were They? Find Out With Blocked By Me

Twitter’s block facility is one of the network’s biggest failings, for two important reasons. One, it isn’t a block at all. And two, when you block somebody the platform doesn’t provide any easy way for you to review (and perhaps restore) the people you’ve blocked in the past.

You can unblock people by visiting their profiles, but that means you’d have to remember or keep a list of lots and lots of users. And who does that? And how many people are we talking about, anyway?

Enter Blocked By Me. Blocked By Me does one thing, and it does it well – simply sign in with Twitter (you don’t have to enter your password, and it doesn’t store your details or – refreshingly – send out an annoying tweet to your followers), click on the ‘show my blocked users’ button and you’re instantly presented with a list of everybody you’ve ever blocked, displayed reverse-chronologically, plus that all-important total.

My number was 174. To be honest, I didn’t remember blocking probably 90% of the people in the list. Reading it through, most of them are moronic wrestling fans, which has always been an issue because of my username. Lots of spammers too. The rest are a mix of bots, mass marketers, jerks and good, old-fashioned weirdos.

What is curious is I remember most of the people I blocked back in the early days when I first joined the network, likely because spam was less of an issue then and blocking somebody seemed like a bigger deal. Times change. I don’t block lightly, but I also don’t hesitate if somebody is a nuisance, overly-aggressive or just plain bonkers.

Still, 174 isn’t very much for three years on Twitter, which averages out to just about one per week. I have to say I thought my number would be bigger. Give it time and I’m sure it will.

PS. Hit the comments to let me know your total. If anyone has more than a 1000, please speak up, although I’m probably gonna insist on some proof. I’d also be interested to hear from those who have zero blocks, especially if that stat comes with a decent network size.

When Does An Unfollow Need To Become A Block?

Spammers aside, I block relatively few people on Twitter.

In optimising my stream, I’ve found that the comfort network size for me is to follow somewhere between three to five hundred people. Above that number and I feel that there’s too much going on, and everything moves a little too fast, which means I end up filtering out people and following lists or groups, which means I probably shouldn’t be following the excluded people at all. That may seem harsh, but Twitter simply doesn’t work if you follow everybody.

Likewise, if you follow nobody, or very few people, it also doesn’t function properly. I’m looking for information, not solitude. (I can get that at Google Wave.)

Five Reasons Why I Might Unfollow You

My Twitter network fluctuates fairly regularly, although it takes a lot for me to unfollow somebody. I have a few main reasons:

  1. Inactivity – I don’t and never will see the point of following somebody who hasn’t updated in months. (I use Untweeps to monitor this. I should add that I don’t blindly unfollow everybody who is inactive.)
  2. Inconsistency – If I’ve followed somebody for reason X and all of a sudden all they’re tweeting about is subject Y, this often leads to an unfollow. I’m not looking for everybody to ‘stay on target’ all the time, but complete personality changes or the total abandonment of one theme over another means it’s probably time for us to part ways.
  3. Rudeness – I can’t stand it when people are unnecessarily rude. Please, feel free to disagree with me, stick to your guns and voice your opinion. In fact, I encourage it. Just don’t be an ass about it.
  4. Crazies – I’ll give you every chance, but if you’re quite clearly a good, old-fashioned weirdo, I’ll move on. (Important note: if you bombard me with tweets, I file this under ‘crazy’, too.)
  5. Arrogance – I don’t like it when somebody never replies to my tweets. If this happens, I’ll check out their timeline and see if it’s just me, or whether they’re ignoring most of their other messages, too. Either way, if there’s no relationship there, despite my best efforts, eventually I’ll likely think it’s time we started seeing other people. I’m selective here, because I know some very important people are very busy doing very important things, but there has to be a point where there is no point.

Naturally, I’d expect everybody to apply these same guidelines to me, too.

Two Reasons Why I Will Block You

It’s items three and four that are the most serious. Because an unfollow on Twitter doesn’t stop somebody contacting you via an @ reply, rudeness and craziness can still get through, even after an unfollow. Or, more damagingly, if you never even followed at all. If either of these things becomes persistent, that’s when I will block somebody.

It doesn’t help that the block function on the network doesn’t actually work properly. But while blockees can still read my timeline and rant and rave about me to their heart’s content, at least I don’t have to be privy to it.

Just to reiterate – I’m not a fly-by-night follow/unfollower and I always give others a chance to excel. I love it when people surprise me, and bump against my (often flawed) expectations and first impressions. It takes a lot for me to actually block somebody.

If you want to get my attention, please, go crazy – I would absolutely love to hear from you. I really want to know what you think.

Just don’t be crazy. Or rude. Otherwise, I’m sorry to say that we’re done.

How To Tell If You've Been Blocked On Twitter

UPDATE: While this article still has some value – there’s a lot to be gained from having a second Twitter account just in case – Twitter has recently made it a lot easier to find out if somebody has blocked you. All you have to do is try to follow them. Click here to read an updated article on this topic.

Various articles have been written about how to determine if somebody has done the unthinkable and blocked you on Twitter, but they are inconsistent and in many cases quite wrong.

There is, however, one very easy way to tell immediately if you’ve been blocked: open a second Twitter account.

When you’ve been blocked on the network, and try and access somebody’s tweets, this is what you see.

How To Tell If You've Been Blocked On Twitter

(And yes, I have been blocked by Stephen Fry – find out why here.)

This is essentially identical to what you see when somebody has protected their status updates, so it can be confusing. Moreover, it can be a little embarrassing if you issue a request to follow to somebody who you later find out has blocked you.

But there is a loophole: Twitter blocks on a per account basis – not by using cookies or IP addresses. By logging out of Twitter and revisiting their profile page with a different account, you can immediately see what is what. If you can now see and read their tweets, then your other (likely main) account has been blocked. If you still see the ‘This person has protected their tweets’ message, then that is what they’ve actually done.

So You’ve Been Blocked – Now What?

People have many different reasons for blocking somebody, and most of the time a block is issued legitimately, at least in the eyes of the blocker. Chances are that the person is unlikely to reverse their decision, and even if they might it’s awkward for you to now approach them, so the best thing to do is just move on.

Plenty more tweets in the sea, after all.

Two Accounts Good, One Account Bad

Apart from this easy and convenient way to find out if you’ve been blocked, there are other valid reasons to have a second Twitter account, too.

  1. It can protect you from identity theft.
  2. If Twitter suspends your main account (for whatever reason), you have another way to contact them and issue a help ticket.
  3. It’s useful for testing purposes, allowing you to experiment with new features on the network, or via a different device (i.e., a mobile phone).
  4. You can try different avatars, background wallpapers, even protected updates, without impacting your main account.
  5. If you run a blog, a second account could be used to share new articles, which gives your readers an alternative way to subscribe to just those updates (avoiding the other tweets you likely make on your main account).


Blocking is very much a part of the Twitter experience and while the feature definitely needs some improvements, for many it plays an important part in making them feel safe and secure on the network. Finding yourself blocked by somebody else is never pleasant, but it’s not something to obsess over, either.

Let’s face it: most of the time, you will have some idea of why it has happened. And if not, or if you feel that an individual has blocked you for something utterly ridiculous, do your very best to regroup and move on. Much like if you lend somebody $20 and then never see them again, it was probably worth it.

POLL: Why Do YOU Block Somebody On Twitter?

In a recent article I wrote about the limitations of the block mechanism on Twitter. This is an issue because as the network grows in popularity it begins to attract more of the same kinds of ‘problem people’ we see elsewhere within the internet – spammers, trolls, nasty folk and good old-fashioned weirdos.

When I first started using Twitter, I rarely blocked anybody – now, for various reasons, I’m blocking several people each day. It’s those reasons that I want to address in this poll.

Specifically, why do YOU block somebody on Twitter?

(Please check as many reasons as apply.)

Please share any reasons personal to you that I have not covered in the comments area below.