As we all spend more and more of our lives online, it's become more and more necessary to find way to keep select people away from us online. Continuing the welcome trend of letting people set stronger online boundaries, Gmail is introducing a "block" feature that will let you keep unwanted senders out of your inbox. And it's about time!
Previously, Gmail has enabled users to avoid dealing with unwanted messages from specific email addresses by making it possible to "filter" emails, sending them to a designated folder separate from your inbox. However, there was no way to reject emails from a certain sender outright or prevent specific people from trying to contact you in the first place. Now, though, with just two clicks, you can bar someone from your inbox altogether.
As Google explains in a blog post, they want to help users stay in control of their inbox. "Sometimes you get mail from someone who’s really disruptive," they write. "Hopefully it doesn’t happen often — but when it does, you should be able to say, 'Never see messages from this person again.'” Hence, the new block feature, which is available right now for web users, and will be available on Android starting next week.
The whole process is delightfully easy. You just go to the drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of an email and select the new "Block" option. From then on, the person's emails will be sent to the Spam folder where you don't ever have to see them, though on the off chance this person does something to redeem themselves, you can unblock them in "Settings."
This feature is obviously some much welcome nuisance control for many people, but it also can be invaluable for people who are targets of harassment, stalking, or other forms of abuse. For many people, just seeing a person's name in their inbox can provoke fear, anxiety, or any number of other stress responses. It can bring up bad memories and associations that can wreck your mood all day. It can also just make you feel exhausted, particularly if you've been dealing with the abuse for a long time.
But thankfully, it's getting easier to shut those people out. They may not be perfect, but these four other ways to help keep toxic people from ruining your online experience are definitely a start.
1. Block and Mute On Twitter
It is frequently very easy for trolls and harassers to target people on Twitter; furthermore, Twitter has admitted they're not as good about handling things that violate their terms of service as they probably should be. However, they do give you a few tools to keep the creeps away, namely the mute and block features. Muting someone prevents you from seeing their tweets — a good option if you don't want to deal with them but still don't mind them seeing your tweets or are afraid what they might do if blocked outright. No one knows when you mute them. Blocking someone, on the other hand, prevents someone from seeing your tweets, and automatically removes theirs from your newsfeed, though you can go to their page to see them if you want to know what they're up to or how they've reacted to being blocked. Unfortunately there are a few loopholes to the block feature — people can still see your tweets if they've logged out of Twitter, for instance — but it's better than nothing.
2. Controlling Facebook Privacy
There are actually a lot of ways to protect yourself from unwanted contact on Facebook. You can block people like on other social media platforms, but you can also customize your privacy settings to make sure that only the people you want to see you can do so. In fact, you can actually control who can see each individual Facebook post that you make by going to the privacy menu, selecting "Who Can See My Stuff?" and then clicking "Use Activity Log." Facebook: It might have been taken over by your parents, but it's also no place for trolls.
3. Instagram Block
Instagram doesn't have as many tools to keep creeps away as Facebook does, but it does have a block feature, which is quick and easy to use, and that is important.
4. Report, Report, Report
Reporting people is tedious and takes up more time than it is really fair, and unfortunately, oftentimes reporting abusive online accounts doesn't go as far as we'd like. However, it is still worthwhile to report people, including contacting the police if someone is threatening physical violence. Because speaking out matters.