Mute Represents Everything Wrong with Twitter Today

Finally, you can mute on Twitter. Everything that’s wrong with Twitter has been fixed confirmed.

If you don’t want to see what someone Tweets, unfollow them. If they are spamming with mentions, favorites or retweets, block them. If that isn’t enough, report them for spam.

But mute? The only reason Twitter needs a mute button is the platform’s addiction to reciprocity.

  • You follow me, I’ll follow you!
  • You share my content, I’ll share yours!
  • As long as you support my vanity metrics, I’ll keep supporting yours!
  • Together we’ll become the next ninja gurus!


How Mute Works on Twitter

If you missed the announcement, mute lets you silence a user. You won’t see any of their activity, even if they mention or retweet you, but they won’t know it. Here is the announcement from Twitter.

With mute, you can follow Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki), engage with him, wait for him to follow you back, and then mute him because he Tweets too much. You will still be following and he won’t know you put him on mute. It’s like a silent unfollow, letting you keep your reciprocal followers while ensuring you completely ignore them.

Unfortunately, others see this possibility as a positive development. Here is what Mashable said about it.

“The feature will also be a boon for many businesspeople who use the service, as it allows you to pay someone you’ve networked with the courtesy of a follow on Twitter, even if you’d rather not consume the content in their Twitter stream.”

What Twitter Needs To Do Instead

We don’t need to mute users, but a temporary silence would certainly improve the Twitter experience. I’m sure a few of you would appreciate the ability to mute me during Twitter chats or conferences (and thank you to those of you that still follow me nonetheless!).

Muting certain application sources we don’t care to have cluttering our stream, such as SumAll or, is an extremely useful feature supported by some Twitter clients, but not Twitter directly. Adding these features, rather than a blanket user mute that is already served by unfollowing or blocking, could improve the experience people have with Twitter instead of adding duplicate features.

For more information on how I use filters in Twitter, see Putting the Conversation Back Into Twitter and Beyond Lists: Use Filters to Manage Twitter.

Your Turn

What am I missing, what do you plan to use Twitter’s mute button for?

Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake). I promise, I won’t mute you.

Photo Credit: striatic via Flickr cc, edited by author.

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  • One word… amen! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Shelby LaCroix

    My philosophy is this: if you don’t really want to engage with someone on Twitter, and don’t care to hear what they have to say…then don’t follow them! It seems it’d be much more beneficial to implement features and behaviors that support and improve the authenticity of our relationships (online and otherwise) instead of creating features that encourage behind-your-back tactics that hinder the opportunity for a transparent, real relationship.

    In the “real world” I think it’d be pretty safe to assume that people couldn’t get away with standing there face-to-face in conversation with one another while also having their fingers shoved in their ears, would they?

    • Well said, thanks Shelby!

    • everycat

      Shelby, you nailed it. I cannot see the point of Mute, other than to encourage a nasty little undercurrent for genuine folk. Those who follow, then mute are such cowards, I guess numbers are more important to them. This is especially unpleasant amongst those on Twitter who post for animals in need of help or rescue. Mute just encourages unpleasant, cowardly, schoolyard cliques!

  • Aaron Bean

    Will be interesting to see how this new feature plays with Twitter’s stock price ; ). Any wagers? Thanks for the heads up Eric, I missed the announcement.

    • Unless Twitter lets you mute advertisers, I’m voting “no impact.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m betting/hoping that an app like will start tracking stats on who muted you – so you can act accordingly.

    It would be great to be able to temporarily mute yourself so as not to annoy followers during a high-tweet interval like a Twitter chat.

    • Diana, it sounds there isn’t an indication someone gets when you mute them, so apps likely won’t be able to identify that. Time will tell though.

      • Eric – there’s no indication for unfollowers now, but there are tracking apps that will give you that info. That’s what I’m thinking of.

  • I participate in curated following which is more in line with recommendations outlined with the Dunbar Number, and in my case “mute” is useful as a test of timeline. If muting improves the timeline then one can fine tune one’s following, but a timeline has many hundreds of followers, then of course, “mute” is literally a mute point.

    The difference between curated (minority) following and volume (majority) following is that curated is about the content one has subscribed to while volume is a container that is about “collecting people”. The next question is whether that what is curated is for a public or whether it is private? In my case it is private, because I would like to think that my following is about following and not about developing a following.

    So “mute” works for me because my timeline isn’t filled with a multitude of voices, but works for me because having a filter is not a rejection of individuals but a personal preference, or a fine tuning of signal and appreciation. The act of listening isn’t a given but is relevant to those who are observers and committed to use media as a form of education, rather than a broader social or tribal utility.

    Less is more in my private world, and that is the way I live my personal life also – and life shouldn’t be tit-for-tat – but often it is – especially for minorities of the type I was born into. I don’t see “mute” an either-or-proposition, but it can serve a purpose for a minority like me who themselves will always will remain a part of a minority (whether that be online or as offline citizens).

    So yes, it can be useful for the small minority, but probably does not really serve as great a purpose for those that have volume or majority following. Ultimately how we view mute as a signal can become a facet of living in a many-to-many world.

    The resulting observational maturity teaches me how to utilize a
    “mute” button simply because I fit the exception rather than the rule – and of course, if and when “mute” serves absolutely no purpose
    at all – then its purpose will be rejected by those who have a volume or social majority perspective.


  • Agree with Shelby, It’s quite better to follow people which are relevant to your industry because it’s quite complicated if you are under software industries then all of the tweets located at your homepage are more on beauty products. And that’s the reason why everybody may trigger to click mute button. Thanks for the information Eric

  • I hope that you will bring a lot of great information and useful than pretending anymore

  • At first I thought mute was a bad idea, however I follow a lot of great people who may only login once a week, suddenly, a barrage of tweets that fill my feed. Not nice.

    Additionally, some of your followers may be at an industry event, then suddenly your stream is filled with a running commentary. Not nice.

    I love rocking out to Van Halen as much as the next 80’s child, but sometimes, the music needs to be turned down so i can focus on other things.

    Mute for 3/7 days would be a better option in my opinion.


  • porck

    This is only good for celebrities. Then can mute annoying fans without alienating them. It’s the PC way of blocking them. Otherwise, it’s useless.

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  • wayne54561

    More users are so happy to use twitter and they enjoy the service in here. I hope this will be so more useful feater for us to mute tweet. It give us more control in this messenger.