Elon Musk wants to remove the ‘block’ button on X, formerly known as Twitter. That would be a huge mistake.
OPINION: This latest decision further proves that Apartheid Clyde does not care about marginalized communities.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
First of all, let me just say that I don’t call it “X.”
I still call it Twitter. His mama named him Twitter, so I’mma keep calling him Twitter. I don’t understand the name change any more than I understand any of the other ridiculous decisions Elon Musk has made during his tenure as CEO of the beleaguered social media platform, and his latest decision — should he follow through with it — will be one of the worst yet.
In response to a Twitter user who asked, “Is there ever a reason to block vs mute someone? Give your reasons.”
Musk replied directly to the tweet and said, “Block is going to be deleted as a ‘feature,’ except for DMs.”
His statement was given the stamp of approval from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who replied directly to Musk with the “100” emoji and said, “Mute only.”
Clearly, this is a group of rich, entitled and privileged white men who have never had to worry about having their mentions flooded by racist abusers who dox them and put their personal information and that of their family members online.
It’s glaringly apparent that Musk doesn’t run his ideas by anyone who could give him sound advice before loudly announcing them first. He’s like the spoiled little rich kid who wants everyone to play with him, but he keeps changing the rules whenever he starts losing or isn’t getting his way.
As a self-proclaimed champion of “free speech,” Musk has allowed racism and racist harassment and abuse to run rampant on the app since he took over. I can personally attest to being harassed by racists any time I tweet or share my writing about issues surrounding racism, racial justice, white privilege, whiteness, white supremacy and anything along those lines.
In May, after I wrote extensively about the Citi Bike Karen incident, I was doxxed repeatedly, and when I reported a few of the accounts on Twitter, I got a response back saying they had found no violation in the person’s tweets.
I’m not the only one.
Black women are targeted for abuse daily on the app as are members of the trans community and the LGBTQIA+ community at large. Racists, Trumpers and everyone in between look for every opportunity to try and make someone else’s day miserable. I spend a lot of time blocking accounts in order to protect my peace.
Marginalized communities already face an onslaught of abuse on Twitter, and with this latest decision, Musk is proving that he doesn’t care.
It is highly likely that his desire to remove the ability to block people is directly tied to people blocking him (it obviously hurts his little feelings that no one cares to read what he has to say) and a large-scale campaign to block Twitter Blue users who pay to have their tweets prioritized over everyone else.
And since the introduction of tweet monetization for that same user base, the rage farming has increased as blue checkmark accounts try to incite people into engaging with their content so that they may suck at the teat that is Twitter’s ad revenue — or so Elon has promised them.
Elon has never made clear to Twitter Blue subscribers just how they get paid or how much they get paid or what they need to do to increase their revenue; he has simply promised that getting engagement will get them dollars because, in the end, Elon is not above using those who idolize him in an attempt to rescue his app that is dying a slow death of a thousand paper cuts as we speak.
I’ve seen people explain how the revenue sharing works, and honestly, it sounds like a pyramid scheme.
To be fair, I will share how The Verge explained it in July:
It’s not immediately clear how payouts are determined or how much revenue Twitter keeps itself, but accounts need to have at least 5 million impressions on tweets over the last three months. Conservative YouTuber Benny Johnson posted that he was eligible to make nearly $10,000; @Elon_alerts, an account that shares Musk’s activity on Twitter, said that its payout amounted to around $2,200. Musk said in a tweet that payouts are cumulative going back to February, when the program was first announced.
The revenue-sharing payouts are coming at a time when Twitter’s dominance as the microblogging platform is being threatened. Meta’s copycat app, Threads, launched last week, and 100 million users signed up within days. A few days earlier, Musk announced he was limiting the number of tweets users could read “to address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation.” Interesting strategy for a company that depends on advertising to keep the lights on. And in the background of all of this, Cloudflare data shows that Twitter traffic has been tanking since January.
For the TL;DR crowd: Yes, it’s very much giving PYRAMID SCHEME.
A decent human being would recognize that removing the block button is problematic for a lot of reasons, but we are not talking about a decent human being here. That Jack Dorsey, who himself was called out a number of times for the rampant abuse on Twitter during his reign, would cosign such an idea is further proof that rich white people only want to make money off of us; they don’t care about our wellbeing.
I don’t know if Elon will actually go through with trying to remove the block feature. What I do know is that harassment and abuse of marginalized communities is a daily factor on his app, and even without removing the block feature, he refuses to take any real action against the offenders.
Instead, he cheers them on, enables their behavior and fosters a platform where they feel comfortable being the worst versions of themselves.
It’s sickening to watch.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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