Introduction to @TheBlockBot

 

Note for those coming here when blocked, please understand that our service is created to help our subscribers ignore accounts that they likely wish to ignore. The purpose of our service is nothing more or less than that. The levels are merely a guide and our records exists to increase transparency for our subscribers and to maintain an ability to review blocks. When adding an account to the Bot, the blocker ideally makes the call according to their sincere judgment of what action would be of the greatest use to our subscribers.

If you believe that you have been added in error and you wish to make the case that a significant number of our subscribers would likely wish to interact with your twitter account, you may contact any blocker (including admins) or post on this thread at the atheismplus.com forum.  If you believe there has been a significant misunderstanding or problem, you may wish to inquire with one of the admins @TheBlockBot,  @MAMelby,  @Xanthe_Cat, @VanguardVivian. However, the best course of action may likely be to make peace with the possibility that some people on twitter may not wish to talk to you and that’s okay. (Refer to the linked comic strip.)

Please do not contact CollectQT with questions about current technical issues, policies, or blocking decisions. Only direct constructive inquiries concerning the *technical* aspects of  the proposed code rewrite, that is in the planning stages, to their team. Thank you. 

For more information on blocking consult Twitter’s help center.

 

The Block Bot is a Twitter application to automatically block the people added to its lists. Once installed, it works in the background, discreetly blocking them on your Twitter account.

The Block Bot can be used anonymously, and makes no change whatsoever to your Twitter profile. The blocks are made silently, and (from the point of view of the person being blocked) are indistinguishable from ordinary blocks. You may follow @TheBlockBot Twitter account if you wish, but there is no requirement to do so.

The Block Bot was created specifically for the atheist feminist community and currently includes a strong contingent of transgender social justice activists and intersectional feminists. It should go without saying that blockers, as with any other human beings, make assessments based on their own perspectives and world-view and any commentary they make is their own. Blockers do not make judgments based on a set rubric, but make complex decisions based on a variety of factors in an attempt to serve our subscribers as best they can.

You can adjust the strictness with which blocks are applied, by choosing from one of three levels:

Level 1 is populated with accounts that in the opinion of the blockers the vast majority of our subscribers would likely wish to ignore.

This may include, but is not limited to, accounts that appear to engage in aggressiveness, threats, harassment, dishonesty in an effort to infiltrate social groups, impersonating someone, posting shock images, encouraging self-harm, spouting dehumanizing rhetoric, promoting hate speech, etc.  New accounts that appear to be created to circumvent blocks or participate in harassment campaigns are also often added to this level.

Level 2 includes those in Level 1, plus a wider selection of accounts, that in the opinion of the blockers don’t belong on Level 1.

This may include, but is not limited to, accounts that appear to include slurs, insults referring to identity, humiliation, ridicule, victim-blaming, etc.

Level 3 goes beyond The Block Bot’s main purpose, and expands the list to include accounts that appear to be tedious and obnoxious.

This may include, but is not limited to, accounts that appear to frequently engage in microagressions, parrot tired talking points, show a sense of entitlement to have a conversation, exhibit a lack respect for the lived experience of others, etc.

The Block Bot does not affect your ability to block people manually, and does not interfere with your existing block list. It does not block anyone who you are following, and will unblock anyone who you later choose to unblock. If you no longer wish to use the bot, it can easily be removed and the accounts blocked unblocked.

(Alternatively can use the blocktogether.org lists Level1Level1 and Level2Level1, Level2 and Level3)

 Posted by at 10:17 pm

  63 Responses to “Introduction to @TheBlockBot”

  1. Yo, just so you know, that change to the intro/FAQ isn’t enough to get everything dropped. Although I did notice that the list is looking a bit anemic now. How ’bout that.

    • How does the song go. You’re so vain … Why do you think these changes are about you? We’ve updated incorrect information on the website and toned down the language to make it more professional, we are doing this in preparation for an announcement.

      If you want to look up the history of the bot there has already been an attempt to sue by lots of people when it was first on the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). The BBC’s lawyers for one laughed at the suggestion, Popehat gave us some advice and also pointed out how ridiculous the law suit was, no one followed through strangely! Bear in mind the descriptions were a lot more, err, colorful way back then, they’ve been changed many times since. If you want to sue for being on a list which has always had very vague definitions for it’s levels, since they are subjective, and never been demonstrated to have a quantifiable negative effect on anyone then go ahead.

      • What? You’re going to get civil suits if not libel.

        • Based on what? Libel is not a civil matter, the Information Commission has told the person who hosts the bot he doesn’t have to register under the Data Protection laws as they don’t apply … So how exactly are you intending on issuing these civil suits?

          • And you just gave up on it? It is clear you were getting too much heat, as your lawyer probably told you to hand it off or try a different approach. Absolutely hilarious,

          • Um, the lawyer who looked at the original threats stopped giving us advice over a week ago. Because the person who has been telling you the “lawsuit” is real dropped all his complaints of libel as they were clearly ridiculous. Might have something to do with the harassment warning he got from the police for sending spurious libel threats intending to intimidate. That is a permanent record on your name that comes up in any enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check … So the only vaguely “legal action” taken has been by the police against the GamerGater spearheading the “lawsuits”.

            Seems his latest wheeze is to complain to the ICO, given they’ve stated the person who hosts the block bot servers is not a data controller and does not have to register under the act. There are no complaints you can make against him! Unless the ICO change their minds, so good luck with that, I’m sure they want to be responsible for policing data held on US servers :D

            ETA: Oh, and given up? Read again, we are improving and expanding on it!

  2. I got put on this thing for sending a one off joke to a user and there i am among the “worst of the worst” with all the stalkers, MRAs and neonazis.

    Is there seriously no way off this thing?

    • Check who added you, either on the Storify or use Twitters search function and ask them. If they don’t respond check the list of blockers on the FAQ and find one to ask, anyone can remove or re-level you. Quite a few people have been incorrectly put on level1 as they are assumed to be socks, as well as the “worst” any suspected fake accounts are put on level1 until they can be identified.

      You’ll likely either be removed or re-levelled to a lower level when they review.

  3. I sincerely appreciate the irony of promoting free speech on the front page of your website while handing out a tool to censor and hide others’ views.

    • Um, exactly how does it hide or censor anyone’s views? All the Twitter accounts added are still up, still expressing their views for anyone to read in the free marketplace… You seem confused about what the bot does, it is an opt-in service that will make it impossible for someone on the bot to contact a person who subscribes. That is it, no censorship, no hiding of views. The users can still read any tweets they like, unblock or follow people on the list and engage however they like.

      • “Um, exactly how does it hide or censor anyone’s views? All the Twitter accounts added are still up, still expressing their views for anyone to read in the free marketplace…”

        An online Free Speech Zone if you will…

    • Luckily your right to free speech does not mean that I have an obligation to listen to your drivel.

      Other people have rights too (I know, shocking) and they’re exercising their right to not have to read your tweets. No infringement on free speech has been done, you’re still allowed to say stuff you just can’t force people to have to listen to it.

      • Yes, racists don’t have to read the news, listen to holocaust survivors, people with other political viewpoints, or read a book once in a while.
        That exactly makes them ignorant hicks who are intellectually lazy.

        And this, they have in common with the users of the block bot.

        • Exactly!!! Anyone who would subscribe to something like this is intellectually fragile, and most likely believes things not based on reality, but on preconceived notions that must not be challenged. I would not worry about being on such a list, because the people who subscribe are likely not rational and capable of rational exchange, so what’s the loss?

    • It’s absolutely hilarious and sad just how poorly understood the concepts of free speech and censorship actually are. It’s as nonsensical as demanding attention from a woman on public transit who is wearing headphones and reading a book and it wouldn’t surprise me that many of the people on the list have those attitudes.

  4. You’re garbage. Really.

    • This is from someone from the Gate-cult, they obsess over some “literally whos”, one of which is Randi harper, hence the reference in their nym. An interesting anthropological study awaits I’m sure … Their email address is “[email protected]”. Classy!

      • Oh yeah, that movement that doesn’t hate anyone based on gender, race, orientation or identity….

        Yeah, unfortunately, we don’t buy your shit. This ‘service’ is a farce. When Barak Obama and the Pope are on it, one has to ask, is this thing really legit?

        • Netiher of those people are blocked on the bot. Obama was added by a rogue blocker and removed when it was noticed, the Pope was added to “level4″ which means no one has confirmed the add, so he is not on the blocking levels of the bot. Although having compared trans people to nuclear weapons he maybe should be, not that it is likely he’ll harass anyone on Twitter :)

  5. As much as I like the XKCD comic here and as much it is pretty much factual correct and as much as it is a perfect reply to those that that would invoke freeze peach at any instance… freedom in general isn’t just freedom from the government. With great power comes great responsibility and if you are maintaining a popular list of something (be it search results [Google], an ad blocking list [Adblock+] or whatever [media]) then you have de-facto some power you should use wisely (or be made to use wisely). Being more professional and transparent is certainly the way to go.

  6. Your program is garbage, and you are garbage. How does it feel your tool is empowering those who wish to censor and control?

  7. It’s sad that people need to be told what they should listen to and what they shouldn’t listen to.
    There are people on this list that don’t deserve to be put on this list as a criminal.

    Not only that, who is to judge on who to accept the block request or not.
    If it is automatic. Then who is to stop blocking both sides? Then where is the argument? Where is the rationalized talk?
    If you resort to this kind of decline in what humans are best at, communicating, then there will never be common ground, just the continuation of the same problems. If you ask me I want @FemFerq to be on the block list, but I see @thunderf00t for example. Good job, it’s the other way around censorship at it’s best.

    • Create your own block list if you want @femfreq on one! No one is stopping people from talking, we are giving people who *don’t* want to talk a mechanism to keep you out of their mentions.

  8. Fuck this, I am so tired of hearing “it sounds like a Blink cover band”. No it doesn’t. Of course, he does not have the same voice as Tom…they are 2 different people. But HOLY FUCK, I am so tired of reading this shit. If you don’t like them…(because guess what..that is who BLINK 182 IS NOW) then fucking stop listening. Like it or not, the above concert IS BLINK 182.

  9. Why do you fear those speaking the truth? Immature children “block” their ears to avoid hearing too.

    As Jesus said:

    But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words, therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God. John 8:45-47

  10. I have a major problem. Everyone has been talking about this Block bot Checker so I checked it out. Apparently I am on there for asking how a video is sexist. But that is not my issue. My issue is my real name being on the checker even thought I have never put my real name on twitter or even gave my consent to have my real name on the checker at all. This feels to me an invasion of my privacy as I did not release my real name to the public on twitter or anywhere near it really. I personally feel that if anyone wanted to they could just find that and bother me or harass me. I hope you can get back to me so we can, for lack of a better word, deal with this in a professional manner.

    • Cool story, what’s your twitter id so we can check it out?

      BTW there is no storage of your “real name” anywhere in TBB systems, only a public Twitter id. But a nice try there ;)

      • Wow… No offense but the condescending attitude is really not necessary when I am trying to bring up a legitimate concern.

  11. I’m slightly disappointed I only made it to Level 2! Can you advise how I get promoted?

  12. You guys put Richard Dawkins on here = You’re opinions are no longer valid.

    • Fallacious reasoning from a Dawkbro? How is this possible … :-/

      • so why did you block him then?

        • What has this got to do with your fallacious reasoning? Your claim was that blocking him makes our opinion invalid, this is clearly not true.

        • Actually scratch that. Can anyone become a Blocker? Say if one of my friends suggests me to become a Blocker, what’s preventing that? Seems like you’d have to do an awful lot of monitoring, very messy.

  13. I see where you say to use twitter search or storify to find the particular tweet – but I can’t seem to. Can you provide more specific instructions please?

  14. Cancelling a show because of the objections of others is violting free speech. Your basic idea that it’s not censorship if the government doesn’t arrest you is flawed.

    • No, it really is not. The makers of the show in question have no right to a private platform, hence they are cancelled and they have no recourse through a “free speech” complaint.

      Or to put it another way, you have all the rights in the world to speak, but no right to make people listen to you.

  15. Apparently I was put on this block list for “ableism” but when I checked the storify the tweet it showed didn’t have ableism in it. All I did was criticise a medical website’s legitimacy.

    • Just saying… comments by ‘Concerned’ would be of much lesser concern to all if they included a Twitter account ID to back up the nature of those assertions.

  16. I, for one, welcome our new SJW overlords…hopefully they do better than the chaotic evil types who are in denial about their insignificant minority status on the modern Internet.

  17. I asked several times why i landed on the blockbot. I asked on twitter, i asked on the atheism plus forums. I never got a response.
    Why do you tell people to use these resources, if they can’t expect an answer anyway? Why not simply tell people tell the truth, that they won’t get an answer because the block bot is totally subjective, and not based on reason or evidence?
    Why not tell them, that they don’t have the right to defend themselves, when an anonymous group of people judges them over the internet?
    Thank god, the legal system isn’t run by a bunch of SJWs who deny people to right to a fair hearing.

    My twitter handle is @thebasementboy

  18. Hey, I’m wondering if there is a replacement for the block checker? I can’t find any, the links I do find appear to be dead.

  19. Your responses to these comments is a horrible way of responding to criticism. You really need a new PR guy to handle these things, as your reputation goes down the drain for each and every new user that looks at these comments.

    I’m not sure if you notice how bad it looks to others, but let me tell you, your immature responses of deflecting criticism instead of actively trying to understand why some people disagree with your program (who, who knows, might want to subscribe to it), is going to continue to tarnish how you look in the eyes of others.

    Your program has media attention, and it’s not good news on your side. Why be immature about criticism by responding to it in this way?

    • This is not a space for dealing with criticism, we should really spam/delete all those comments. It is about responding to queries on block bot status … In fact we do clear down the comments from time to time as they start to impact the load time of the page! If you want to criticise the block bot you are free to do that in many many places, thanks.

  20. you don’t speak for me <3

  21. I’m glad to see a filtering service like this for Twitter that I can opt-in to use if I need it. Thank you!

  22. Cutting off a mans tounge doesn’t prove he’s wrong, It shows you’re scared of what he has to say

    • Ouch, if that happened to you I’d suggest it was nothing to do with blocking on Twitter. That doesn’t literally or metaphorically stop you speaking, it only stops you contacting our subscribers via twitter.

  23. There a particular reason I’m on the list at level 2? lol

    • Twitter Platform Operations reviewed the block bot and passed it as not breaking the Terms of Service, let alone being illegal! We do not unfollow any one, the bot specifically NEVER blocks anyone you follow. Hence it is not against ToS.

  24. This ideology that creating a McCarthy-era ‘red-list’ of Commu-, err, misogynists works to benefit social justice also ignores the fact that such movements are based on expanding the philosophy of equal gender rights to people who wouldn’t otherwise follow it. What progress would the Civil Rights Movement have made if it made no attempt to appeal to people who were in favor of or at least ambivalent to segregation? Absolutely none.

    That being said, blocking people on the pretext of harassment and spam is completely justified, but it’s been stated (and publicized on major news sources) that your block lists are rife with people who have committed no crime other than presenting an opposing argument or opinion. Likewise, you take no responsibility for this, and only offer to remove them from the list after they ‘appeal’ the decision of whatever person decided to falsely and libelously add them to a list supposedly full of people strongly against equal rights.

    I can only say that it’s extremely ironic that this website is endorsed by ‘Atheism Plus’, a so-called skeptical movement that rejects religious dogma but seems to institute the exact same techniques of baseless character attacks, censorship, and demonization used by religious zealots. As both an atheist and a feminist, it’s embarrassing to see this website labeled with movements I’m apparently a part of.

    Considering that I’ve used a false email on this comment form and voiced a dissenting opinion about a website centered on censoring dissent, I do not expect this comment to show up.

    I also feel that using a false email is acceptable based on the very-real risk that the community of this website will use my personal information to block me from communicating with thousands of people, which is kind of the whole reason that I use the internet.

    • Um, it’s blocking on Twitter … Sorry but that by no means implies the people using the service are ignoring “opposing opinions”, I think you’ll find there is no MRA, trans exclusionary, GamerGate or other “opinion” that they are not very well versed in. It’s a shame you think this is the only reason your “opposing opinion” is not appreciated by them, they just haven’t heard it yet, seems legit.

      • There are documented cases of people blocked on this website who are not MRAs, transphobes, or even genuine misogynists. If this wasn’t the case you wouldn’t even have an appeal system.

        Either way, as a social movement, you have the responsibility to answer questions. When you start taking your beliefs as axiomatic and refusing to hear any contrary opinion, you are creating a culture of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Regardless of whether your beliefs are right or wrong, you are, by definition, silencing dissenting opinion and alienating anyone who does not already consider your social beliefs to be objective truth. You have already admitted this by stating that opinions you’ve ‘heard before’ are not welcome at your discussion table. What if that person was open to changing their mind after hearing your response? By silencing them you have nullified any chance of them becoming a part of your movement.

        You also claim that the people using this service aren’t ignoring ‘opposing opinions’ but what else would they be doing? I refuse to believe that every single person listed on this website is a sociopath who literally only writes hate speech filled vitriol on Twitter. I would argue that many of the people on this website were placed on here for doing something as innocent as questioning the validity of a statistic or making an opposing argument against a popular activist. These kinds of things should be an important part of any discussion about social issues.

        I just, personally, want to know whether you consider this an actual attempt at promoting social justice. You’re creating what is essentially a culture of exclusion that refuses to heed or discuss anything that does not automatically fit your world view. You’re telling anyone who is even on the fence about social justice that they’re either ‘with you’ or ‘against you’ and that you do not care what they have to say unless they adopt your world view.

        Atheism Plus/feminism, as movements that do not necessarily match the majority view, are literally destined to fizzle out and fail if this approach becomes the standard for promoting social justice. You will have a small, tight-knit group of extremists that hold discussions only with other extremists, and then eventually they will all get old and die and there will be no more activists to carry on your movement.

      • By the way, I feel the need to preface my last comment by saying that, in terms of worldview, what I believe in is probably the same as what you believe in. I’m not an MRA, a /b/tard, or a trans/homophobe. I want to see equal rights regardless of gender, I want to see more women in leadership positions, I want to see more women in STEM, I want to see gay marriage become a constitutionally recognized right, and I want to see transgender identities recognized by society as legitimate.

        With all that in mind, I strongly believe that what you’re doing here is destructive to the movement for all the reasons I’ve already stated. Whether the people you’re silencing are wrong or not is irrelevant.

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