Blocking is the simplest tool in a growing kit available to users experiencing abuse and harassment on Twitter, and it’s one of the oldest (it was introduced in 2007). A “block” simply disables the ability of a blocked user from seeing your tweets. If that person visits your profile page, they’ll see a message letting them know that they’ve been blocked from viewing or following your account.
In part because of its simplicity, blocking is one of the more popular ways for Twitter users to deal with trolling and nastiness. In fact, Twitter once tried to replace blocking with a less severe “mute” feature, which allowed users to see your tweets and interact with them, but hid that activity from your view. The change was wildly unpopular among many users — and the company reverted back to its traditional “block” feature within a day. Now, Twitter allows users to both mute and block at will.
For verified users like Dorsey, Twitter has another anti-harassment tool available: an opt-in quality filter that hides some potentially abusive tweets from view. Lauer didn’t ask Dorsey if he actually uses this filter himself.
When asked about Twitter’s harassment problem overall, Dorsey said that it was “disappointing” but “reflective of the world,” and that “the most important thing is that we’re empowering dialogue.”
The question about Dorsey’s (lack of a) personal block list came out of a series of questions from Lauer — which he said came from his Twitter followers — about censorship on Twitter, specifically whether Twitter was censoring tweets for “social or political” reasons.
That accusation has been gaining steam for a couple of reasons lately, including Twitter’s move toward an algorithmic (as opposed to a strictly chronological) approach to displaying tweets. As of this week, Twitter has turned on algorithmic feeds by default for all users.
Dorsey said Twitter was “absolutely not” censoring its users, yet acknowledged that Twitter’s terms of service don’t, technically speaking, allow users to say absolutely anything they want on the site. Some tweets violate Twitter’s terms of service. “There’s certainly tweets that promote violence,” Dorsey said.