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App Store terms probably won't stop X from turning off the block feature

Nearly immediately after Elon Musk announced that he was going to kill the ability to block other users from a feed, App Store terms and conditions were said to be a problem for the action. Here's why that's probably not the case.

In a post, Elon Musk said in response to a question by a group of Tesla owners that X was going to soon stop the ability for users to completely block other users on the main feed. This doesn't apply to direct messages, apparently, with Musk intending users to mute other X users.

A X block not only means that the blocking user can't see what the blocked user posts, but the blocked user also doesn't have access to the blocking user. A mute still allows the muted user to see what the user doing the muting posts.

The user complaints about it began almost immediately. Advocacy groups decried the change, arguing that it will make the service more hostile and less safe for users.

Users saw a potential conflict with the action and the App Store's terms and conditions.

Specifically, Section 14.3 of the Terms of Service for the App Store about User Generated Content was cited.

14.3 - Apps that display user generated content must include a method for filtering objectionable material, a mechanism for users to flag offensive content, and the ability to block abusive users from the service

The mute function on X likely meets the first criteria. The second criteria is met by existing X post reporting tools.

The third criteria, the "ability to block abusive users from the service" is what has been cited by commenters as why Musk may not take the step of cutting off user blocking.

Admittedly, the language in the Terms of Service for this particular case is vague. As implemented so far, and as it has been historically enforced to date, this third criteria applies to the host service being able to block and kick out users, and has not mandated service users having the explicit ability to block other users.

And, arguably, X could say that the mute function paired with the continued ability to block direct messages from users fulfills the third criteria.

As with the rest of the moves on X, it's not clear when the removal will happen. Historically, other than layoffs, it's taken months for these changes to take place from owner decree to execution.

But, Friday's announcement isn't the first time that Musk has said that the ability to block other users was, in his eyes, questionable. It's unclear if preliminary steps have already been taken to remove the feature.