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Why Elon Musk May Face Legal Hurdles in Removing the Block Feature on Twitter



Elon Musk, the owner of X, has contemplated eliminating the block feature, which currently allows individuals to restrict certain users from viewing their posts while also avoiding exposure to those users’ content.

However, this plan might encounter challenges, as both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store mandate that all social media applications include the block feature.

In their respective developer guidelines, both platforms explicitly emphasize that any app facilitating user-generated content must incorporate the block feature. This requirement is rooted in the platforms’ recognition of the pivotal role this feature plays in curbing abusive behavior and ensuring a safer user experience.

What the guidelines say 

Apple in its App Store guidelines stated that apps with user-generated content often have peculiar challenges, ranging from intellectual property infringement to anonymous bullying. To prevent abuse, apps with user-generated content or social networking services, Apple said such apps must include: 

  • “A method for filtering objectionable material from being posted to the app; a mechanism to report offensive content and timely responses to concerns; and the ability to block abusive users from the service.” 

Similarly, Google in its Play Store guidelines noted that apps that contain or feature user-generated content (UGC), including apps that are specialized browsers or clients to direct users to a UGC platform, must implement robust, effective, and ongoing UGC moderation. 

The moderation, according to Google, includes: 

  • “Requiring users to accept the app’s terms of use and/or user policy before users can create or upload UGC; defining objectionable content and behaviours (in a way that complies with Google Play Developer Program Policies), and prohibits them in the app’s terms of use or user policies; conducting UGC moderation, as is reasonable and consistent with the type of UGC hosted by the app; providing an in-app system for reporting objectionable UGC and users, and takes action against that UGC and/or user where appropriate; and providing an in-app system for blocking UGC and users.” 

X could be removed from App stores 

Musk had posted on the X platform on Friday that the ‘block’ was going to be deleted as a feature on the app, except for DMs. However, users provided context to the post, using the community note feature recently introduced by Musk to disclaim the post. 

  • “If the ability to block users was to be removed, X would violate the policies of the App Store as well as the Google Play Store. Potentially, this could lead to X being removed from these platforms. There are no such policies for the web app, however,” the users stated in the note to Musk’s post.  

Meanwhile, many users on the platform have also expressed their displeasure with Musk’s plan to remove the block feature.

According to them, the ability to block trolls and abusive posters is very essential for any social media platform.