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Twitter Mute Button Would Muzzle 'That Guy'

You know, the one who overshares about his pets or sends an inspirational quote every five seconds? A Twitter feature in testing could quiet the noise.

Kristin Burnham

May 3, 2014

3 Min Read

Twitter Revamp: 10 Things To Know

Twitter Revamp: 10 Things To Know


Twitter Revamp: 10 Things To Know (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

There's one at every workplace, conference, and dinner party: the person who talks too much. Social networks aren't immune to them, either, but Twitter appears to be testing a way to silence them politely.

According to reports, some Twitter for Android and iOS users have seen a mute button that lets you follow someone without seeing that person's posts in your feed. Unlike unfollowing an account, muting someone still lets you receive direct messages from that person and notifications.

Twitter consistently tests new features, so it's unknown whether this option will roll out to more people. In September, Twitter vice president of engineering Alex Roetter said that its testing has picked up, and that it's rare for a day to pass without the company releasing at least one experiment.

[Not everyone gets it right every time. Read Twitter Turns 8: How To Fail In 140 Characters.]

"A common thread across recent releases has been experimentation. We've tested various features with small groups of our 200 million users before determining what we'll release," Roetter said in a blog post. "These tests are essential to delivering the best possible user experience."

Twitter's mute button might be especially useful in situations where someone you follow live tweets an event you're not interested in, if your company requires you to follow coworkers on the social network, or if you're worried about friends spoiling a TV show you haven't yet watched.

Rumors of the new button follow Twitter's controversial move in December to reverse its policy on blocking users. According to the proposed policy, people you block would still be able to see your tweets and follow you. Critics complained, saying the change would allow harassers to continue tracking a person's updates, even if that person had blocked them.

Just hours after introducing the change, Twitter backtracked.

Though the mute button might be new for some mobile users, a number of Twitter applications and third-party clients already support it. Tweetdeck, the Twitter client that Twitter acquired in 2011, features a muting capability, for example, as does the third-party app Tweetbot, which lets users mute accounts for a specific period of time. Tweetbot also lets you mute apps -- handy if you're tired of viewing Foursquare checkins.

Facebook has employed a similar tool to rid your News Feed of talkative friends. Rather than unfriending a contact, Facebook lets you unfollow that contact. Your friend can still message you and view your posts, but it removes that friend's annoying content from your News Feed.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor, InformationWeek.com

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior writer. Kristin's writing has earned an ASBPE Gold Award in 2010 for her Facebook coverage and a Min Editorial and Design Award in 2011 for "Single Online Article." She is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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