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Advice for your new media startup: Don’t block people en masse on Twitter

Advice for your new media startup: Don’t block people en masse on Twitter
[Photo: Rebecca Oliver/Unsplash]

Let’s set the scene: You’re starting a new company–a venture, as some people call it. And you want people to use your new product or service. One thing you shouldn’t do is block everyone who disagrees with you on social media.

It seems Verrit, the Hillary Clinton-endorsed sort of media website, is not taking my advice. For the uninitiated, Verrit was launched last year by digital strategist and longtime Clinton defender Peter Daou. What Verrit exactly is remains unclear. It would post usually fact-based statements on both Twitter and its website alongside a seven-digit fact-checking numerical code that users could cross-check, to let them know that the statement is “verified” by Verrit. The idea was muddy from the outset–something about fake news, relying on facts, and being anti-Trump. And it seems even Verrit itself knew it needed retooling: As Splinter reports, the website now claims it will reboot this summer.

Daou has a penchant for pressing the “block” button on anyone he deems a troll, which is many many people. And it seems Verrit has adopted this trait from its birth father. For instance, I was blocked on Twitter by both Daou and Verrit, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ve never tweeted directly at either of them, and despite me being a pretty chill journalist type who honestly does not tweet that much about politics. Other Twitter users have also noticed that they are blocked by Verrit, despite scant interactions with the company.

If you’re tweeting from a personal account, pressing “block” is absolutely your prerogative. If people are annoying you, block to your heart’s content. I would say the only way to make Twitter more bearable is to block with abandon. But if you’re launching a new company aimed at accruing users, and you have the keys to its social media presence, this tactic doesn’t seem like the best idea. Aggressively blocking people who have never even heard of your brand doesn’t seem like the smartest way to evangelize your new product, whatever it is.

Anyway, just a few thoughts for the morning. Peter, if you’re seeing this, I’d LOVE an un-block, but I respect your decision nonetheless.CGW