The option to remove a follower without blocking them is the first of Twitter’s proposed array of new privacy tools. The remove follower feature is now being tested on the web, and it appears to legitimise the concept of a “soft block” as an official Twitter feature.
According to the test’s announcement tweet, you can remove followers from your profile page’s follower list. Simply select “Remove follower” from the three-dot menu next to a follower’s name, and your tweets will no longer appear in their timeline.
This is not the same as barring someone, which prevents them from seeing your tweets or sending you direct messages. The new delete follower option on Twitter is more of a distant unfollow button, a nicer way to put some distance between you and another Twitter user.
You could previously use a “soft block,” which is when you manually blocked and unblocked someone, to have them unfollow you without their knowledge. If you delete followers, they must refollow you in order to see your tweets in their timeline, and if you have protected tweets (i.e., tweets that are only viewable by your followers), they will require your consent to refollow you.
Testing such functionality as an official Twitter feature is proof that it could be easier and that it could be beneficial to users. It’s also another example of Twitter turning its users’ behaviours into official features, similar to the @reply, hashtag, and retweet.
An even better solution would be more precise control over who can view your tweets at the time of tweet creation – Twitter is mulling an Instagram-like “Close Friends” option — but for now, trimming your follower list easily and silently is adequate.