Twitter's Soft Block Feature: What You Need To Know

If you want to remove someone from your followers without them realising, this is for you.

In real life, when you don’t get along with someone, you can try your best to avoid them, but on social media, it’s a bit different. If someone irritates you online or has an opinion that you don’t agree with, you can completely block them.

But what happens when someone you don’t like – or don’t want to see your posts – follows you? Unless you block them, it’s tricky to get that person to unfollow you, which is why people have started to “soft block” other users.

When you block someone, that user can’t see your profile and is aware that they’re blocked. Soft blocking is when you block and immediately unblock another person. When you block someone, they’re automatically removed from your followers, but using the sneaky “soft block” technique means they won’t be met with an obvious “you’re blocked” notification the next time they visit your profile.

To make things easier, Twitter has announced it is trialing a new “soft block” feature, available to a limited number of users (for now).

Twitter said to remove a person, these users can go to their followers, then click the three-dot icon and select “remove this follower”. This will allow users to remove a follower without blocking them in a few simple steps.

This news came after last week’s announcement of the launch of a new “Safety Mode” on Twitter, intended to keep people safe from seeing abusive posts.

Instagram is already ahead of the game and will allow you to “remove a follower” if you don’t want someone following you. If you want to remove a follower on Instagram, simply go to the person’s profile, click on the three dots on the right-hand side of their profile, and press “remove follower”.

Fanatic Studio / Gary Waters via Getty Images

The context in which you’d soft block someone is different from when you’d block someone. Often, you’d block another user after they’ve thrown abuse at you, you’ve had an unpleasant real-life encounter with them, or you generally don’t want that person to see your tweets. Soft blocking, however, can mean you don’t dislike that person, but you’d rather not have them interact with you online.

Chadwick*, who is a 29-year-old film freelancer from London, says blocking is an extreme measure of boundaries, which is why he prefers to soft block other users. “Soft block is to say, ‘I don’t relate with your content anymore and I don’t want to be associated with you’. Social media is a network of thoughts, perspectives, and ideas, and when you have so-called friends making affiliates with people you don’t want to be linked to, it’s a healthy way to draw a line.”

He thinks the new soft block feature is a good way to go, but says it’s quite easy to soft block people on Twitter anyway.

Weiwei, who is a 25-year-old designer from Shanghai, says she soft blocks people when she doesn’t want to see content from, and she’d rather they not get updates about her life either.

“When I soft block, it’s always someone that I’ve worked with in some fashion, and I ended up feeling very stressed out by their presence,” Weiewi adds. Weiwei says the new soft block feature will be useful to use, but she hops she doesn’t have to use it often.

Maddy, who is a 26-year-old business analyst from London, says she soft blocks people for mental health purposes. She usually soft blocks people who she’s friends with as she doesn’t like seeing them do things they usually wouldn’t do in real life. “It’s never a personal thing, I just want to see a variety of content and protect my mental health,” she says.

The soft block feature is expected to roll out to a small number of people, and could potentially be made available to more users as Twitter learns about the user experience of the feature.

*Surnames have been removed to allow anonymity.