Twitter is often a lovely place, where people share ideas and have interesting discussions about all kinds of topics. But like any public forum, Twitter has its fair share of annoying human beings clogging up your Timeline with inane--or even offensive--chatter. Twitter has now made it possible to easily mute those people. Bonus: They won't even know it happened.
Twitter lets you block users already, but it also tells them they've been blocked. The new mute function, which was reported over the weekend but officially confirmed on Monday, lets you silence pests at any time, and also unmute them should they come back into your good graces.
Mute vs. block
If you spot an onslaught of annoying tweets showing up in your Timeline, you can mute that user from your iOS and Android apps or the Web by tapping on the tweet and then tapping More at the bottom. You can also mute a person directly from their profile: Just hit the gear icon and select Mute from the drop-down menu.
To unmute a user, you have to visit that person's profile and tap the red unmute icon.
The difference between muting and blocking a user: Blocked users can't interact with your content by replying or retweeting you. They also can't follow you or tag you in photos. Muted users won't even know you've muted them--sort of like how you can hide a user from your Facebook News Feed so their updates don't appear there, but they have no clue. They can continue to fave, retweet, and respond to you, and you'll still see their interactions in your notifications tab, but their normal stream of tweets won't appear in your Timeline.
If you dislike someone enough to mute their tweets, why don't you just unfollow them altogether? Well, it's not that you never want to see their tweets again, but maybe they're tweeting from an event that's really boring or being a little too vocal for a few days. You just want to wait til they pipe down a little bit.
The mute feature comes just a few months after Twitter inspired a wave of outrage by changing its blocking policy to allow people you've blocked to continue to interact with your tweets. The network quickly backtracked on that change. Mute seems to be a toned-down version of block, another level of privacy that could make the network more appealing to new users while satisfying the early adopters.