(NEW YORK)—In response to a thread on Twitter (now known as “X”) from Elon Musk that suggests he may end the platform’s block button, PEN America’s Viktorya Vilk, director for Digital Safety and Free Expression, issued the comments below:

“Elon Musk seems determined to make X (formerly known as Twitter) the least safe and least equitable social media platform on the internet. Before Musk acquired the platform, PEN America worked closely for years with Twitter’s human rights experts and trust and safety specialists to reduce the harm of online abuse against women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and others disproportionately targeted online for their identities and professions. Since acquiring the platform, Musk has undone it all – and then some. He’s fired all of the human rights experts and most of the trust and safety specialists. He’s shut down one safety feature after the next or put them behind a pay wall. Removing the block button–a critical tool that so many writers, journalists, artists, and other users need to protect themselves from attempts to silence them with hate and harassment— would just be adding insult to injury and putting yet another nail in the coffin of a platform that is no longer Twitter, either in name or in spirit.” 

PEN America’s 2021 report No Excuse for Abuse includes a section that specifically highlights blocking as a safety tool to mitigate abuse online. 

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057