Twitter has begun testing the first of its proposed suite of new privacy tools: the ability to remove a follower without blocking them. The remove follower feature is currently being tested on the web and seems to canonize the “soft block” concept as an official Twitter tool.
According to the tweet announcing the test, you can remove followers from the follower list on your profile page. You just click the three-dot menu next to a follower’s name, click “Remove follower,” and your tweets will no longer automatically show up in their timeline.
This is different than blocking someone, which keeps them from viewing your tweets and direct messaging you (and keeps you from doing the same with them). Twitter’s new remove follower feature is more of a remote unfollow button, a gentler way to create some distance between you and someone else on Twitter.
Previously, to have someone unfollow you without their knowledge, you could do a “soft block,” which is when you manually blocked and unblocked someone. Followers you remove then have to refollow you to see your tweets on their timeline, and if you have protected tweets (aka private tweets, only viewable by your followers), they’d need your approval to become a follower again.
Testing similar functionality as an official Twitter feature is an admission that it could probably be easier and that people could benefit from it. It’s also yet another case of Twitter making the habits of its users official features, just like the @reply, hashtag, and retweet.
An even better solution might be more granular control over who can see your tweets at the point of tweet conception — Twitter is considering an Instagram-like “Close Friends” option — but for now, easily and quietly pruning your follower list will have to do.