Block Party, an anti-harassment startup that aims to help folks feel safer on social media founded by Tracy Chou, launched today. Currently only available for Twitter, Block Party helps people filter out the content they don’t want to see and into what Block Party calls the Lockout Folder. That’s where all of the filtered-out content lives in the event you want to review it later.
“We think it’s important to still acknowledge that these people exist,” Chou told me.
If you pretend like it doesn’t exist, you might miss out on useful information or genuine connections.
“There’s a lot of good stuff that would get lost there,” she said. “There is a reason we use public platforms like Twitter.”
On the more negative side, she said, you still may need to check periodically to see if there’s someone threatening your physical safety.
Helpers play a big part of the Block Party experience. You can grant a trusted helper access to your Lockout Folder to let you know if there’s anything useful in there, or to simply block the trolls.
“It’s a lot easier for someone else to help you process it and flag something that is a concern,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to share that burden. The current design of most of these platforms is to put the burden of dealing with it solely on the person who’s being abused.”
The Lockout Folder also serves as a record-keeping tool in the event you need to present evidence of your harassment to a company, a lawyer or someone else.
“It’s really about trying to make people’s lives easier,” Chou said. “It’s just so painful to have to see the abuse again when you’re filing the report.”
Block Party emerged from Chou’s own experiences working at platform companies like Facebook and Quora, as well as her experience as an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech. At Quora, the block button was one of the first things she built after being harassed on the platform, Chou told me.
“There’s that perspective of having been on the inside and seeing how product and engineering teams work,” Chou said. “But also being a DEI activist and seeing how lack of representation on teams has impacted product decisions for the worst.”
Although Block Party is only available for Twitter users, the goal is to add other platforms and help folks address harassers that target them across multiple platforms. Block Party is currently free but plans to introduce subscription tiers. Still, Chou said she envisions the free version always existing.
To date, Block Party has raised a little less than $1.5 million in funding. Its lead pre-seed round was led by Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures. Other investors include Alexia Bonatsos, Ellen Pao, Alex Stamos and others.