The option to delete a following without blocking them is the first of Twitter’s proposed array of new privacy features. The delete follower option is presently being tested on the web, and it appears to legitimize the notion of a “soft block” as a Twitter tool.
According to the test’s announcement tweet, you may delete followers from your profile page’s follower list. Simply choose “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 banning someone, which prevents them from seeing your tweets or sending you direct messages (and keeps you from doing the same with them). The new delete following function on Twitter is more of a distant unfollow button, a softer method 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 awareness. 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 visible by your followers), they will require your consent to refollow you.
Testing comparable functionality as an official Twitter feature is an acknowledgment that it might be easier and that it may be beneficial to users. It’s also another example of Twitter turning its users’ behaviors into official features, similar to the @reply, hashtag, and retweet.
An even better solution would be more precise control over who may view your tweets at the time of tweet creation – Twitter is exploring an Instagram-style “Close Friends” option — but for now, reducing your following list simply and discreetly will suffice.