Blocking an online harasser can help protect against unwarranted, inappropriate, and harmful conduct, especially if the harassment is causing high levels of anxiety and contributing to negative feelings.
Never hesitate to block someone who is causing you grief or interfering with your ability to function normally in online spaces.
Blocking isn’t necessarily effective in deterring harassers, however. After blocking a troll, abusive messages can continue to proliferate in the same forum without your knowledge, potentially adding new anxieties about the content you’re now not seeing. Asking a trusted confidant to monitor messages associated with your username can help assuage some of this anxiety. You should also be aware that in some cases, blocking might make the harassment worse. In author Celeste Ng’s experience,
The really dedicated trolls love to be blocked. They take great delight in creating a new account to troll you again, and in tagging their troll friends to come and harass you, too. It’s a hydra effect: you block one, you get half a dozen new ones.
Only you can decide whether or not blocking feels right. If you do decide that blocking a harasser—even for a brief period of time—is a helpful tool for mitigating online abuse, take a look at the list of platform-specific tools and plug-ins below.
How to Block, Platform by Platform
Information from Twitter’s Help Center about how to block specific users
- “Muting” (also known as “quality filtering”) on Twitter
An option to “mute” rather than block specific usernames, terms, phrases, hashtags, and emojis. Muted messages don’t disappear entirely, but they save you from having to witness content that may be harmful or traumatic
- Twitter Block Chain
A Google Chrome plug-in meant to reduce the damage done by retweeting and dogpiling by blocking all users who are part of a particular following
- Block Together
A web app that helps reduce the burden of blocking when you’re being attacked by multiple accounts. It allows friends to subscribe to your “block list” so that when you block an account, your friends automatically block it, too
Information from Facebook’s Help Center about how to block specific users and followers
A step-by-step guide for blocking abusive users on Medium
- User Blocker plug-in on WordPress
A plug-in providing WordPress admins the ability to block and unblock user accounts “quickly and effortlessly”
- Blocking an IP address on WordPress
Information for blocking the IP addresses of harmful spam accounts and potential hackers
Information from Tumblr’s Help Center about how to block specific users from your different devices
Information from Instagram’s Help Center about important privacy settings and how to block specific users