If you follow me then you’ll know I like to run my mouth, and as a result I have both a decent sized following as well as a decent sized group of people who would like to see me disappear completely. I have literally hundreds of thousands of accounts blocked on my Twitter – I use a number of tools to do this (all free) and I’ll talk about them here.
Being the target of a Twitter pile-on (someone with a big platform quote-tweets you or screenshots your tweet and then the trolls start rolling into your mentions with falsehoods, slurs etc etc) is a horrible experience, particularly if it’s at the hands of Transphobes, anti-choicers, Neo-Nazis or those Anti-Vax fruit loops. You wouldn’t let these people have your phone number, or let them into your house and I treat my social media the exact same way.
Think of it as a type of Online Hygine – I don’t engage with people who wish me or minorities harm or offense, I don’t reply to them or even try and dunk on them (much), I simply block and move on. But it can be incredibly difficult to go through every single account that’s joined in with a targeted attack and block them, their followers, and the people who have liked or shared their abuse of you one by one.
I use a Chrome plug-in called Block Chain for this exact reason. Block Chain allows you to click on an account’s followers and select “run block chain” from the browser toolbar. Block Chain will then block every single account that you either haven’t already blocked, or aren’t following. This saves a lot of time and hassle and allows you to quickly eliminate like-minded people who have been sending abuse your way in one easy click.
The only downside to Block Chain is that once you run it you may be logged out of Twitter and will need to clear your cache in your settings in order to log in again but you’ll at least have dealt with the pile-on.
Another handy, and free tool that I use is called Likers Blocker – and it does exactly what it says. It’s available for most browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Opera – and works very well though it can be a little buggy so you may have to refresh the page.
Likers Blocker allows you to click on a Tweet that has been sent to you, or to anyone and nobody in particular, and click on the number of likes. Once you’ve done that Likers Blocker will display a “Block All” button which allows you to – yep! Block all of them. I use this feature for particularly heinous Tweets spewed out by some vile people on Twitter Dot Com.
The same thing can also be achieved by a free website called Mega Block. This website allows you to enter the URL of a Tweet and will block everyone who has liked, as well as the person who Tweeted it.
Lastly the best free tool I use to protect myself on Twitter, apart from Twitter itself – is a website called Block Party.
Block Party requires you to sign in to Twitter to authorise it, and will run in the background. It allows you set filters depending on what you want your experience to be like such as only getting mentions from people you follow, verified users etc. It will also allow you to be as open as you want and allow mentions and notifications from everyone.
Block Party will send you an email each week that highlights your Lockout Folder from which you can select who to block, who to whitelist, and who to mute etc.
As a queer writer and activist on Twitter, I get my fair share of abuse, nasty comments about my gender, sexual orientation, my appearance etc. It’s not OK, and it’s not part of a civilized society and we shouldn’t, as activists, have to constantly justify and explain ourselves to people who have zero interest in respecting our right to even exist. Block them – don’t engage.