Twitter takes a baby step against harassment with shared block lists

It’s something.

Twitter—notoriously blasé about the widespread harassment that plagues its platform—appears to be stumbling toward improvement. 

On Wednesday the company announced an export feature for block lists, allowing them to be shared among Twitter users. The result might be a sort of community-wide blacklist for problematic accounts—a solution far superior to the current approach, which essentially leaves individual users to fend for themselves in an endless game of troll whack-a-mole.

The approach isn’t altogether innovative: a third party made a public database for block lists called Block Together last fall. Twitter explained the move in a blog post about the update:

“Mute and block are tools to help you control your Twitter experience. While many users find them useful, we also recognize that some users — those who experience high volumes of unwanted interactions on Twitter — need more sophisticated tools.” 

It’s high time that Twitter acknowledge the difficulties for high-profile users (i.e. high-profile harassment targets) as they try to safely navigate the network’s very public, very anonymous waters. Allowing users to band together to create block lists isn’t a final solution, but it’s certainly an improvement.

Illustration by Max Fleishman

Taylor Hatmaker

Taylor Hatmaker

Taylor Hatmaker has reported on the tech industry for nearly a decade, covering privacy and government. Most recently, she was the Debug editor of the Daily Dot. Prior to that, she was a staff writer and deputy editor at ReadWrite, a tech and business reporter for Yahoo News, and the senior editor of Tecca. Her editorial interests include censorship, digital activism, LGBTQ issues, and futurist consumer tech.