As far as I can tell blocking a user does not force them to unfollow you. So there's no way to just quietly remove a follower without them being notified that you have blocked them. Given that muted users also still appear in your notifications when they comment on your posts, there's really no way to quietly one way stop seeing what a user is saying to you without full blocking them.
I mean, I could be wrong but I have multiple times blocked and unblocked a user who I have muted and I want to stop seeing their comments in my notifications on every single post I make and they still sure do keep commenting on everything so my only assumption is that the follow tag isn't removed when you're blocked. I don't mind them seeing my stuff I just get A LOT of notifications from them.
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