Blocking Users on Social Media Is Good

Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic:

In real life, if someone crashed a gathering of strangers and started disrupting conversations while shouting abuse, they’d quickly be bounced from the party. Yet on social media, this sort of caustic conduct is not only tolerated but sometimes celebrated. In our day-to-day lives, getting disciplined for misbehavior is how we learn to be better. But because such norms were never upheld on the internet, many spaces turned toxic, and many people never got the feedback they needed to grow out of their bad habits. Blocking is part of that feedback. […]

Though harassment and abuse are the most obvious cases for blocking another user, I find a low threshold is necessary for a more enjoyable use of these platforms. It removes from your view any user who spoils your experience for any reason. That is excellent. If anything, I think using the “block” button on social media is increasingly necessary, as platform owners have decided to decrease the extent to which users control their own experience.

A user’s Twitter feed used to contain only the accounts they followed. Twitter then began injecting tweets your followed accounts “liked” from other users, and now promotes all kinds of tweets from accounts users do not follow. The launch of Threads went in entirely the opposite direction: for the first several weeks of availability, the only feed you would see contained a mix of posts from accounts you followed and “suggestions” from other accounts.

There are benefits to this — Threads looked lively without a user needing to follow a single account. But it requires a liberal use of the “block” button to regain any semblance of control.