Don't Use Facebook Blocking

by Davis_Kingsley 1 min read21st Apr 202023 comments


This might seem like an odd and trivial thing to write a LW post about, but it bears mentioning after seeing another notable incident:

The Facebook block feature is implemented poorly and you should not use it if you intend to participate in community discussions on Facebook. When you block someone on Facebook, they cannot see any of your posts or comments. However, they also cannot see other people's comments in reply to you.

The failure mode that I've seen multiple times now looks something like this:

  • Person A starts a thread on a community topic that gets a lot of engagement
  • Person B, who has blocked many people, makes a comment on that post that itself gets a lot of engagement in sub-replies.
  • Person C, who is blocked by Person B, wants to participate in the discussion but is missing significant context because they cannot see either Person B's comments or any other comments made in reply to the thread person B started, even those made by Person A or other people who have not blocked Person C.

Yes, that's right -- if you block someone on Facebook, not only are you preventing them from seeing your content, but also in some cases you're preventing them from seeing *other people's content* because it happens to have been posted in reply to a thread that you initiated.

As a result of this dynamic, I think people are somewhat obligated to use the block feature sparingly or not at all if they intend to participate in serious community conversations on Facebook, as using it more widely can quite impede conversations.

(Of course, it would be better still if we just didn't have important community conversations on Facebook at all, but that's a different story...)