‘To block or not to block?’ is the question when it comes to social etiquette on Twitter. You may have suddenly found that you are no longer seeing tweets from a certain profile in your Twitter newsfeed. If you have been blocked by this user you will know by clicking on their profile and seeing the following message:
‘You are blocked from following @XXXX and viewing @XXXX’s tweets’ with a link directing you to a Twitter landing page explaining that users have the tools to control their experience, including blocking.
If you have been blocked from an account, you won’t receive any form of notification from Twitter when the action has been taken by another user, however it will mean that you will no longer able to follow or view tweets from the user who has blocked you, nor will you see any tweets that user has published which include your Twitter handle. They however, can continue to view your tweets in your profile if you haven’t returned the block.
Whilst Twitter has now implemented an abuse policy the grounds for blocking remain at the individual user’s discretion, however there are standard valid reasons for blocking a user on Twitter.
2) Offensive photos
3) Offensive videos
4) Offensive language
It becomes a grey area when users block each other ‘just because’ without a valid, legitimate reason. Usually, unless your profile is set as private, in public profiles each user will only share what it wants its audience to know, and users usually only follow a certain profile as they are interested in what the user has to tweet about.
In the case of brands and competitors it would be highly unusual for a competitor to block another brand on Twitter because as an open forum for communication, it is a platform for discussion, services, broadcasts and engagement. It fuels conversation and drives innovation, all the while challenging brands to stay one step ahead of the game. Having previously launched John Lewis on social media I would have never considered at any stage blocking the social media accounts of competitors in the market as we were conscious that we had consented to join an open network and therefore built a strategy to drive conversation that fuelled engagement and innovation which embraced competition as opposed to blocking competitive noise and stunting growth.
So I guess I should go back to the original question ‘to block or not to block?’ when reflecting on social etiquette on Twitter. If you were manning the front doors of a Debenhams department store, would you close the doors to Marks and Spencer staff? Aside from if they’ve breached one of the top 5 reasons listed above, I would assume not.