Why I Blocked You on Twitter

Once or twice a week, I receive an email (usually from a man) inquiring as to why I have blocked him on Twitter. The answer is usually pretty simple: I don’t know.

I received a surge of incredibly creepy abuse on Twitter last year, led by people I had already blocked literally years ago. What I found was that those people were still egging on their followers to go after me, and this would have a ripple effect. So I picked a handful of those people—namely, the ones with the lowest Twitter followings—and used a script to block all of their followers.

I’ve repeated this a couple more times with other abusive Twitter accounts, including alt-right figures, Neo-Nazis, and so on. I’ve never done it for an account with upwards of 10,000 followers, because that seems like a bit much. But still, the numbers rack up.

I know this is an overbroad block and I am constantly unblocking accounts as I realize I’ve unwittingly blocked accounts that I am actually okay with. But I am unlikely to undo the mass-block in its entirety because it will take too much time and if anything, my present experience of Twitter is marred by the fact that I have not yet blocked multitudes more.

So, back to your question. Why have I blocked you on Twitter? It’s possible I blocked you personally for being unpleasant to me. It’s also possible I blocked you in a flight of caprice.

But it’s more likely that I blocked you through an automatic script because you follow a serial harasser, a Nazi, or worse. This seems to be your problem, and not mine.

If you would like to appeal your block, please approach me via an intermediary that I already know in real life. Otherwise, mail me a check for $100. I reserve the right to reblock you at any time.


NYT Mag on the Slants

My first for NYT Mag, online:

Federal registration is the T.S.A. PreCheck of intellectual-property law: Not everyone has to get it, but if you do a lot of business, you probably should. The problem is that in the Slants’ case, the trademark office has come to look a bit like the popular image of the T.S.A.: a bureaucracy of bored enforcers just trying to churn through the queue and get through the day. Except that every now and then, something complicated comes down the screening belt, or someone gets a little overzealous about the job, and everyone winds up looking bad.

My debut in the Washington Post

My first article in the Post, for a special issue that celebrates the anniversary of the Web.

As the Web turns 25, it’s worth looking back on how the Internet has changed our perception of the naked female body and the woman who is the naked body. All attempts at Internet regulation raise the same question: What is the ideal level of responsibility for the companies, platforms and websites that make up the Web? It’s not a coincidence that female nudity is so frequently the catalyst for these policy battles. Our convoluted, twisted and ever-evolving social attitudes about sexuality create a perfect flash point for issues of censorship and responsibility.

How panics about pictures of naked women shaped the Web as we know it