New Owner of SF Publication Blocked Over 4,000 Twitter Accounts in 2022

And why it’s such a dangerous bit of behavior no San Franciscan or consumer of local media should ignore.

Here we are again: reporting on the controversial, contentious, and downright dangerous behavior that has transpired since San Francisco’s The Bold Italic was acquired by GrowSF, a conservative political advocacy group in SF.

Since receiving the beloved 13-year-old publication — “for free” — the organization has published a red-flag-ridden job posting for editor-in-chief of the lifestyle; it’s been reported and confirmed The Bold Italic’s official Twitter account has unfollowed past writers on the platform; both Steven Buss and Sachin Agarwal, the two tech executives who co-founded GrowSF, are now also serving as editors of The Bold Italic, per a recently posted “love letter to San Francisco” on the Medium-hosted site. And on Wednesday, December 14, Buss tweeted out a screenshot of his user report for the app Block Party — an application that can “bulk block” users.


“This is self-care,” Buss wrote in a Tweet published earlier this morning. “Thank you @blockpartyapp_!”

Memorializing how many social media accounts one has blocked in a calendar year comes off as ego-centric, perhaps even brazenly narcissistic. According to doctorate-holding university professor Nigel MacLennan, there is usually a line of thinking that include any (or all) of the reasonings listed below:

  • I am right; you are wrong.

  • I am good; you are bad.

  • It’s my way or no way.

  • Anyone who thinks like that is a [insert the accusation of choice].

It’s behavior that hints at an inability to welcome dialogue, thoughts, and opinions that exist outside one’s realms of familiarity. It’s stubbornness and narrow-mindedness, actualized. Per a piece in Psychology Today by author Erica Loberg — which was reviewed, edited, and fact-checked for accuracy by a board of mental health professionals — “[blocking] is a game of control, and at some point, enough is enough.”

MacLennan also notes blocking, in most cases, is a form of “power tripping” — the blocker intends to damage or punish the blockee psychologically. There are some cases where this isn’t the case; this includes when someone’s physical well-being is at risk, i.e. there have been direct and active threats to their life or physical health.  

The same applies to mental health, as well. Blocking, in most cases, has elements of anxiety and depression that come from social rejection or ostracism — the latter physiological term being experienced when someone’s belief systems, viewpoints, or interactions with the world appear to be determined unfavorable or unaccepted among a collective norm.

Buss hinted in his tweet that there’s “self-care” in blocking accounts on social media. This is true. But there’s a fine line between blocking out of maintaining your mental health and doing so out of an incapacity to hold constructive criticism and dichotomous philosophies. I’d be hard-pressed to believe that of the 4,009 accounts Buss has blocked using Block Party this year, there hasn’t been an instance of the latter.

It’s also crucial to realize the position Buss is in now. He co-owns one of San Francisco’s most-read lifestyle sites, which boasts hundreds of thousands of views a month, and has a newsletter that numbers in the tens of thousands of subscribers. 

Blocking thousands of social accounts silences perspectives and voices. In tandem with this muffling, it aids in siloing the chance of vulnerable voices being given amplification on a larger platform. It’s a deliberate act of choosing to occupy a world that only fits inside a specific set of parameters.

Please take note, San Francisco. This isn’t normal, nor something we should gloss over.

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