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X decision to remove ‘block’ feature will increase vulnerability of disabled people

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Nicola Swanborough

X decision to remove ‘block’ feature will increase vulnerability of disabled people

The Epilepsy Society has criticised a decision by Elon Musk to remove the ‘block’ feature from his X social media platform.

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at the charity said the move would increase the vulnerability of people with photosensitive epilepsy online, leaving them at the mercy of internet trolls worldwide.

She has called for Musk to rethink the decision and protect disabled people.

Zach's Law first legislation for people with epilepsy

For nearly four years the Epilepsy Society has campaigned to make it an offence to post malicious flashing images to people in order to trigger a seizure. When the Online Safety Bill becomes law in the autumn, Zach’s Law will mean that anyone in England and Wales who targets a person with epilepsy online could rightly face a five-year prison sentence.

Seizures can cause serious injuries – broken arms and legs and worse. But internet trolls also operate outside the UK, beyond the reach of the new legislation. 

“The block function serves as a much-needed protective layer in a poorly regulated digital world,” said Clare Pelham.

X is global platform

“Our hard-fought Zach’s Law campaign has resulted in the first ever legislation specifically written to protect people with epilepsy. But X is a global platform and we know that keyboard warriors also operate outside the UK, outside our jurisdiction.

“If someone is targeted online, it is vital that they are able to block that person who will then no longer be able to see their posts or contact or follow them.  Freedom of speech is a prize.  But it should not come at the expense of disabled people.

“Any cruel person can shout into the void that is X.  But Musk is taking away the power of disabled people to walk away.  Adding disadvantage to disability.”


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