A couple of times this week, people have remarked that they have been ‘blocked’ by someone on Twitter. I don’t get why people do this.
On Facebook, it makes sense because on Facebook the user has the power to easily gate who does, and doesn’t, have access to their profile.
On Twitter, you can only do this if you lock down your profile. But that defeats the purpose of Twitter – or the purpose most users have attributed to it – which is to openly share thoughts and opinions with anyone and everyone.
It’s a public conversation, after all, and if on one hand you want people to listen to you, then surely you have to accept that some people who might not respond positively to you may also listen as well.
Blocking someone stops them from being able to reply to you, but if they’re saying things which antagonise you, then surely blocking them will only seek to make them more troublesome. Sure, they can’t talk to you, but they can talk about you.
The Hull Daily Mail was recently criticised for shutting down comments on its story about the ‘porn past’ of a hyperlocal site operator. The argument goes ‘if a paper wants to invite opinion, then it should listen to all opinion.’
Surely the same applies to Twitter. After all, blocking someone doesn’t stop them talking about you, or stop them even seeing what you are writing. It just seems to be a way to say ‘I don’t want to talk to you at all.’ In which case, why not just stop talking to them in the first place?
Twitter’s great strength is the opinion of the crowd. If someone is speaking out of turn, they’ll soon be told by the crowd. That’s surely a much more effective way of influencing the debate, rather than just trying to shut out parts of it you don’t particularly like.