How to tell if you’ve been blocked on Twitter

Posted on March 11, 2012

Banksy says STOP in the Name of Lulz

Banksy says STOP in the Name of Lulz

Ah, Twitter, you’re a tricksy little social media platform. You facilitate drama and then you facilitate misunderstandings around the drama so well you might almost be EZBoard (may it rest in peace). And you are constantly changing the way you work, although even all these months after buying them out you don’t seem in a hurry to integrate TweetDeck functionality, for which there is no excuse. I’m sorry, but Hootsuite just doesn’t do it for me.

But where was I? Right, testing what happens when someone blocks you, and how you would ever find out. So I asked for volunteers on Twitter and here’s what we found:

  • If I was Following them when they blocked me, the big blue FOLLOWING button changed to FOLLOW when I reloaded the page. So, that’s a tell. Mind you, Twitter sometimes spontaneously unfollows you from people, so you should click to Follow them and…
  • When I tried to Follow people who’d blocked me, I got a little “Sorry. You can’t follow that person because they have Blocked you.” Pretty straightforward.
  • If I was not Following them before, their page looked exactly the same and functioned as above: when I attempted to Follow I got the message I’d been blocked.
  • Their old tweets remained in my stream.
  • Their new tweets didn’t show up in my stream, even when they @’ed me. But other people COULD rt them and then they would show up in my stream; I suspect this depends on how that rt’er is using Twitter: web Twitter, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or various other apps.
  • Interestingly, if you’re using web Twitter and click on the username somewhere in your stream and the person has Blocked you, you get the little pop-up snippet of their profile page, but if you were Following them when they blocked you, you still appear to be Following them; the big blue Following button is on the pop-up, but not on the main profile page, so always go to the profile page to check.
  • If I was on their profile page and tried to rt or favorite a tweet of theirs, I just got a generic “Sorry, we’ve done something wrong. Try your retweet in a few minutes”.

Here’s what it looked like from the flipside, and thanks to DavidBDale and Poliahu for taking part in the experiment:

So, to sum up, there’s nothing on their actual Twitter profile that says you’re blocked. And contrary to out-dated rumour, the twitterstream does not show up as a protected account. You could try re-Following them, but that might create drama and you can’t stop halfway through. Just try to rt something of theirs, and if it allows you to do it, you’re not blocked. If it stops and says “Something went wrong” or another of those mysterious non-explanations, you’ve been Blocked.