Illustration: Jordan Speer

Bad Ideas

‘Brand Blockers’ Are Trying to Scrub Their Feeds Clean of Every Advertiser on Twitter

I’ve blocked over 1,000 brands on Twitter, and I can’t stop them

Steve Rousseau
Published in
5 min readFeb 3, 2020


Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

TTwitter users love to joke that they “can’t believe this website is free.” But the website hasn’t really been free since 2010, when Twitter introduced the promoted tweet. The average Twitter user might not be paying anything, but the brands are. Twitter reported $702 million in advertising revenue in Q3 of 2019, an 8% increase over 2018.

That money results in ads and sponsored posts — lots of them. Last year, Twitter experimented with increasing the amounts of promoted tweets, which led to an uptick in ads that were either offensive, absurd, or both. (Coincidentally, 2019 marked a watershed moment in Brand Twitter when the Sunny D account tweeted that it was depressed.)

Heinz ketchup? Blocked. Salesforce? Blocked. During one 24-hour stretch, Twitter only served me promoted tweets…