Elon Musk's plan to remove the block feature from the X platform is of profound significance to the platform's users and to the advertisers who still provide a significant portion of the company's revenue. The block feature gives the user significant control of their experience and critically allows self-curation that prevents, at least after a single offensive post, unwanted actors from appearing in feed.
Much is made in the dialog that surrounds social media and social harm of the concept of user generated content. Less discussed is the notion of user generated context. If that's an unfamiliar term, all it means is that the decisions a user makes about who to friend or follow or what to view or click are not without agency.
Every feed is different because every feed is created as the consequence of individual user choices. Of course, the choices they make may not always be good but almost without exception they are not irreversible. The user can unsubscribe to YouTube channels, unfriend a contact on Facebook or unfollow an account on Instagram. The process may be cumbersome and imperfect but in the end it works.
Eliminating the block feature sets X apart from its peers and removes a significant element of the agency available to individuals and other entities, including brands. It's likely that this will lead to a degradation of the user experience over time and may well be the straw that breaks the camel's back for users already alarmed by changes to the platform under Mr. Musk's ownership.
It is unlikely that Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X and friend of advertisers, would have initiated this change. Her recent initiative with Integral Ad Science is designed to solve for the 'atrocious adjacency' element of brand safety; it does not and cannot solve for the problem of toxicity on the platform. The block feature was the single defense against unwanted and sometimes toxic intrusion; without it there is nothing. Users will act and advertisers will follow.
Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.
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