Twitter Quickly Reverses a Very Stupid Policy Change

If you blinked — or were off the Internet for four hours or so tonight — you might have missed that Twitter quietly altered its block feature. You might also have missed them reversing course after a swift and steady user backlash.

The saga resembled a compacted version of that of the abandoned Netflix offshoot Qwikster, though the move by Twitter was far from as drastic or hilariously misguided as Netflix splitting its company in two. Earlier on Thursday, Twitter announced that previously blocked users would now be able to see the tweets of a person who had blocked them, while also being able to reply or retweet them as well. The catch was that the blocker — complicated Internet stuff here, please stay with me — would have no idea that the blocked person was doing any of this. As Buzzfeed's John Herrman pointed out, this practice is frequently referred to as "shadow banning."

Well, you can forget that entire paragraph, because Twitter announced late in the night that it has gone back to the old policy, in which blocked users know they are blocked, forcing them to resort to logging out of Twitter or using a private browser to lurk the timelines of people who no longer want anything to do with them.

Twitter cited feedback from users as its reason for the rollback, many of whom had congregated under the hashtag "#restoretheblock". Internet activism: don't say it never accomplished anything important.