Copyright Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.

Twitter’s Mute: Back To The Future

on Monday, May. 12th

Once upon a time Twitter was an exciting new experiment that, as a company, courted a lot of third party developers who added all kinds of useful features to the service. It was during that era that apps like TweetDeck and Tweetie emerged. Apps so good that Twitter decided to snap them up and make them part of the mothership.

Not every third party feature was brought into the heart of Twitter, one of the most useful–a mute button which allowed users to silence someone they were following without breaking the social connection–was only implemented by the social media platform today.

In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you’d like to hear from less. Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user. The muted user will still be able to fave, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won’t see any of that activity in your timeline. The muted user will not know that you’ve muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time.

To mute a user from a Tweet on your iOS or Android device or on Twitter for web tap more and then mute @username. To mute someone from their profile page, tap the gear icon on the page and choose mute @username.

Here’s the problem: the native Twitter implementation isn’t as good as the mute function on, say, Tweetbot. There you can mute a user for a set period of time. Say that one of your friends is going crazy over a big game for their favorite team, or is attending a wedding of your ex and you just don’t want to deal with them for a day. Mute for 24 hours and then they will pop back up in your feed. Not so with the native version, you’ll have to unmute them manually. Lame.

I’d show some optimism about this new feature, that perhaps Twitter will add more functionality to it over time, but it took forever for them to bring it to bear that I have z-e-r-o faith it will get more useful. There’s so much they could do: like giving the ability to mute all Tweets that mention a certain hashtag, or a certain hashtag when used by a particular friend. Instead we get an ability that was revolutionary a long time ago in an era far, far away.

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