Musk catches heat for saying he will end X feature: ‘Turns into an echo chamber of harassment’

Elon Musk set his own social media platform on fire on Friday, after posting that X will soon do away with the “block” feature, one of the only tools available for users who are plagued by trolls, bots, pornography hustlers, and stalkers.

The “block” function, when deployed, “helps people in restricting specific accounts from contacting them, seeing their Tweets, and following them,” according to the X Help Center. “Accounts you have blocked cannot follow you, and you cannot follow an account you have blocked.”

On Friday, the “Tesla Owners Silicon Valley” account asked users, “Is there ever a reason to block vs mute someone? Give your reasons.”

Musk replied to the post with a bombshell that sent X into a frenzy: “Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature’, except for DMs.”

“It makes no sense,” Musk added in a follow-up post.

For those who don’t regularly use X, “DMs” is a reference to “Direct Messages.” These are private messages that users can send each other on the platform. Often, users find their DM inbox has been flooded with Asian princesses and Nigerian princes who exist solely to say hello and scam you in one way or another.

The backlash — from large and small accounts alike — was fast and furious.

“In the midst of a libel suit I was targeted by thirty trolls the defendant enlisted to harass me,” stated actor and conservative icon, James Woods, who frequently interacts with his 3.4 million loyal followers. “X will be untenable for people like me, who are willing to share their identities. If he does this, I will have no choice but to retire from this site.”


The wildly popular “Catturd” account, with 1.9 million followers, called the move “a horrible idea.”

“Everyone’s reply timeline now will be nothing but spammers, scammers, haters, doxers, and con-artists,” Catturd stated. “It’ll be impossible for accounts to read the real replies. It won’t even be worth trying.”

“I like almost all the new X features, but this is a terrible idea,” Catturd continued. “I bet I’ve blocked 5,000 scammer accounts who just try to sell stuff or get free advertising in my replies.”


“Blocking is one of the most important features on this site,” said Buck Sexton, who can boast 1 million followers. “Otherwise it just turns into an echo chamber of harassment from the most vile idiots.”


The “Wall Street Silver” account, one with which Musk frequently interacts, said removing the “block” option is “a huge mistake.”

“Regretted minutes would skyrocket. There are certain evil people that users just don’t want following them or replying to them. Scammers, cyber stalkers, etc.,” the account said. “I suspect many people would abandon X if they can’t block the harassing accounts out of their lives.”


Scott Presler, adored by conservatives for his tireless efforts to register Republican voters across the nation, suggested Musk should poll the users of his platform.

“Elon, Can you please post a POLL asking X users whether or not to get rid of the block button?” he wrote. “Let the people decide.”

It’s a sensible idea. Musk has relied on polls in the past, even for such decisions as whether he should step down as the head of his own company.

True to his word, when the people spoke, Musk listened, eventually appointing Linda Yaccarino as CEO of X.

And Yaccarino suggested there was “something better” than “block” on the horizon.

After Monica Lewinsky — yes, “that woman” — asked Musk and Yaccarino to “please rethink removing the block feature,” arguing that “as an anti-bullying activist (and target of harassment) i can assure you it’s a critical tool to keep people safe online,” Yaccarino replied, “Our users’ safety on X is our number one priority. And we’re building something better than the current state of block and mute.”

“Please keep the feedback coming,” Yaccarino added.

 

Melissa Fine

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