The Pros and Cons of Twitter Blocklists

Slate’s David Auerbach has written a well-balanced piece in Slate on the pros and cons of Twitter blocklists. He recognises that they’re a valuable weapon against harassers and trolls, but can cause their own problems, and that people and especially organisations should be wary of using third-party blocklists without understanding the agenda of whoever is maintaining the list.

For example, Arthur Chu has a shared blocklist of 30,000 people. All you need to do to get on that list is having ever disagreed with or criticised Arthur Chu. The fact that I’m on it ought to tell you all you need to know. Other blocklists will include you merely for following the wrong accounts.

Blocklists are at best a sticking plaster for a problem Twitter itself should have been more pro-active at dealing with a long time ago.

What’s very telling, though, is the level of vitriol I’ve seen directed at the the author of the piece, with some high-profile figures not even bothering to critique the piece itself but going straight to ad-hominem, accusing him of being pro-harassment (he’s not) or being a supporter of Gamergate (which he isn’t). Somebody’s even threatened to build a new blocklist threatening his followers (i.e. unfollow him or you’ll get blocked).

It does sound as though he’s struck a raw nerve.

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One Response to The Pros and Cons of Twitter Blocklists

  1. Colum Paget says:

    To be honest I don’t see any of this as a problem. In the future we’ll all share blocklists, and we’ll all block each other. Yes, it’s balkanaization, yes it means we’ll be unable to communicate and understand each other, but that’s what’s happening now, without blocklists.

    Twitter is cesspit. Depending on your poision of choice it can be a right-wing cesspit, or a left-wing cesspit, or no-doubt any other kind of cesspit you favor. ‘Communications technology’ hasn’t helped us communicate, it’s just demonstrated that we’d be better off not hearing from most of the human race.

    At the end of they day the kind of person who will put you on a blacklist is often doing you a favor, because the people who follow them and use their blacklist will not be people you want to interact with.

    Personally I think whitelisting in the answer, block most of them except those whom others vouch for.

    # or being a supporter of Gamergate (which he isnt).

    In other news, Godwin’s law needs to be redefined: any opinion that challenges a leftist position will eventually result in someone being accused of being a gater.