Feeding the Monster


Social networks don’t want you to be able to block people. 

Imagine a social network as a the monster plant from Little Shop of Horrors. It doesn’t care about you, or your friends, or anyone. It just wants to be fed. How do social networks feed? By the posts, reblogs, follows, likes, profile information, and anything else you shovel into its gaping maw. 

When you think about it that way, no social network wants more than an excuse for a blocking tool. Blocking someone denies the monster food. Abusers post more and engage more with the platform than victims. Victims feed the monster less and less until they simply stop completely.

It’s cheaper for a social network to do nothing and have victims leave. 

This is the inevitable result of any network who’s metrics are number of engagements, registered users, and impressions. Abusers will always make more posts than victims until the entire network becomes so toxic that people just leave. Metrics flatline, and the network ossifies (Facebook) or collapses completely. 

The beginning of any social network harbors the shape of it’s adulthood, intentionally or not. Once the network is growing — once the culture around it develops — it is very difficult for it to change. If blocking and social siloing isn’t a big feature at launch, it never will be. That wasn’t the vision of the platform creator-investors. That wasn’t what the monster was born to do.

It was born to eat.