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Twitter Goes Quiet? Maybe...

TMCnet Feature

May 02, 2014

Twitter Goes Quiet? Maybe...

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

When it comes to social media, usually it's all about the volume. There's not much point in posting things to social media unless the poster wants it heard, and in a very big way. But the idea of going quiet on social media is a feature that users have long been requesting, and reports suggest that a new experimental feature on Twitter is bringing the ability to mute users who overuse the loudness of social media is making its way to users on at least the mobile level.

With the mute function, reports suggest, users will be able to keep a certain user's tweets or even retweets from showing up in said users' timelines. The user still appears as a follower of the mute target, but the content generated by the mute target simply doesn't appear to the user. Some call it a “stealth unfollow”, and this is an excellent way to describe it. The content doesn't appear, but the user still appears as a follower in the follower lists, so the mute target has no knowledge that said tweets simply aren't reaching the user.

There are a variety of reasons why such a practice would be welcome for users, a concept given support by the fact that muting tweets is reportedly a popular feature on Tweetdeck, which Twitter (News - Alert) acquired back in 2011. Some use it as a short-term measure, blocking off a source of potential spoilers for a television series or a movie, while others use it as a face-saving measure, allowing the user to look like a certain person or organization is being followed, while not having to actually listen to the things said person or organization puts out. It's the kind of thing that can save a lot of annoyance, particularly if it's used the right way.

Overall reaction to the idea of a Twitter mute feature seems positive, but some are hoping for a greater degree of control than has been seen in the past. One feature that seems to be commonly desired is the ability to select for how long a Twitter feed should be muted, as opposed to a simple binary on / off sort of affair. It's one thing to want an hour's peace, or maybe a weekend's respite or even a week for vacation away from a certain Twitter feed's content, but some users are concerned that simple on / off muting will hurt the overall user experience. Of particular concern is the idea that users might mute a certain feed, and then forget said user was ever muted. If this happened on a wide scale, the idea of a Twitter follower count would be largely useless; no one would ever know how many of those Twitter followers were actually listening, and how many just had the mute button on autopilot.

Still, it's an idea that's worth considering; there's a lot going on on Twitter at most any given time, and the idea that Twitter can be kept a little cleaner and a bit less cluttered should prove a welcome one for many users. A little extra control would be welcome here, and help to keep Twitter numbers a little more honest as well. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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