Quick Tip: Mute Twitter Accounts to Cut Back on Social Media Noise

Mute Twitter Accounts

Do you wish you could spend more time using social media to connect with colleagues, clients, or readers? Do you ever feel like trying is almost a waste of time because of all the noise? If so, here's a simple solution for you on Twitter.

Use the "Mute" feature.

Why Mute Twitter Accounts?

Twitter gives you a few different options for eliminating noise from users you already follow:

  • Unfollow them (or don't follow them in the first place)
  • Block them
  • Mute them

You can also report someone for spam which will block them as well, but I'm assuming you wouldn't choose to follow spammers.

Until fairly recently, you would have to unfollow or block someone if you didn't want to receive their updates, even for a limited time. Why might you want to do that? Maybe someone is posting a lot in a Twitter chat and it's overwhelming your feed. Or maybe someone is going on some political rant that you don't want to be exposed to on a particular day. It can be annoying, but not necessarily bad enough to warrant unfollowing the account.

The problem with the old solutions is that the person could tell that you stopped following them. There are plenty of tools out there to let you know when people unfollow you (often used by follow spammers -- people who will only follow those who follow them, and if you unfollow them they immediately unfollow you -- kind of pathetic).

If you blocked someone they'd know because they wouldn't be able to follow your updates anymore either.

Neither is ideal for a temporary time out and you risk offending colleagues, friends, clients, or readers. With the mute feature, you can discreetly stop showing someone's updates in your main feed without having to block or unfollow their account.

How the Twitter Mute Feature Works

In the Twitter.com interface, you can mute Twitter accounts by clicking the gear icon on someone's profile page or the "more" icon (three dots) on one of their tweets. Choose the mute option. And then unmute them in the same way when you're ready.

Mute a Twitter Account

Note: This stops a user's tweets from appearing in your main feed. But if they @mention you or direct message you, you'll still see those in your notifications and DM feeds.

You can also mute users in TweetDeck by going to your Settings screen and choosing the Mute tab. There, you can mute a user's account, tweets from specific sources (such as those coming from spammy apps), or keywords (great for muting hashtags which would let you ignore a Twitter chat conversation without muting a person's entire account).

Mute users on TweetDeck

Something else I love about TweetDeck is that fact that you can mute ("exclude") material from any particular column. That means you can also hide @mentions and even DMs from certain users when you want to, whether you're following them or not.

That can come in handy as a freelancer if you have a client who inappropriately tries to contact you on your personal social media accounts when they know you're off. Or it could be helpful to authors who are dealing with a reader hellbent on criticizing their latest book every chance they get. Better to mute it than let it provoke you into saying something you might regret.

Do you use Twitter's mute feature or the muting options in Tweetdeck? If so, how has it helped you sort through the noise so you can get more out of your time on the social network?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

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11 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Mute Twitter Accounts to Cut Back on Social Media Noise”

  1. I’d heard about mute, but never tried it before… I think I’ll give it a shot. I’m usually pretty ruthless about unfollowing people, haha. But it sounds like mute would be a better solution in a lot of cases.

    • I’m with you on that. I’m due for another purge soon too (though this time around it should only be a matter of eliminating dormant accounts).

      I use mute in TweetDeck mostly for authors. It’s a shame, but many still don’t have a basic grasp of social media etiquette, so they go through periods where they spam their book links. If someone has a new book out and they won’t shut up about it, I mute them until they calm down a bit.

      What I really love is the exclusion option in each column there. There are a couple of Twitter chats several people I follow take part in. And when that’s going on, my feed is a mess. So rather than mute them I just exclude the chat hashtags from showing up in my main feed’s column. Works beautifully. 🙂

      That also comes in handy if you manage accounts for someone else. For example, I help manage the HWA account and I occasionally manage client accounts. I can use Tweetdeck to monitor all of them, but I don’t want to set up separate mentions or notifications columns for every account I work with. Instead I use the column option to lump all mentions together, and I use the exclude feature to remove mentions of the HWA and client accounts. This way I can monitor those separately but still keep mentions for my own accounts in a single place to make my life a little bit easier. 🙂

  2. Jenn, Muting looks like a good option. However, I make extensive use of lists. If someone tweets too much and hogs up the feed in one of my main lists, I move her/him to a secondary list that I look at infrequently.

    I have nearly 10,000 followers now, and I’d really be hating Twitter if it weren’t for lists (and Hootsuite).

    • The mute option would be more for your “following” list than your followers. Lists are certainly another way to manage things though, especially if you tend to follow a lot of people. In that case I’d reserve muting more for limited-time problem accounts — the event over-tweeter like I mentioned in my response to Jake would be a good example. Or maybe it looks like a particular account was compromised but it’s someone you don’t want to completely unfollow. You could mute them to protect yourself from potentially-malicious links until you hear that the account was back under control.

  3. Great trick, Jenn. I’m not on Twitter too much, so it stands out to me when I see the same darn posters over and over even if I’m not there for a day or two. It’s too bad, because my brain instantly starts to ignore them, even the items that might be valuable/interesting.

    • I don’t mind if people post a lot as long as it doesn’t get overwhelming. Spread them out throughout the day and it’s usually not enough to litter my feed. But there are a few power-users I’ve had to unfollow because they can have posts constantly going out. I figure if you’re tweeting several dozen times an hour, most of that’s probably coming from a feed anyway. So that’s when I start tuning them out or just unfollow them. I use the mute option more as a temporary solution — great when everyone’s posting about the same conference or live-tweeting some event when post frequencies can spike.

      • By the way, Jenn–did you see that there’s talk of Twitter using an algorithm, rather than delivering a straight timeline? I think it would be a disaster. Facebook’s algorithm certainly is. (Actually, FB as a whole is a disaster.)

        Curious if you have an opinion!

        • No I hadn’t heard. Unfortunately I haven’t been around much this week.

          I just read up on it after seeing your comment, and wow. That would be incredibly disappointing.

          If I want an algorithm to decide what I see, I’ll search Google. With Twitter, we choose our connections and sources of information. And we do that knowing what these people tend to tweet about, when, and how often. It feels entirely inappropriate for Twitter to mess with that, deciding that so-and-so should be seen more or less often than others. If it turns into yet another “influencer” echo chamber with limited voices being heard, I’d either leave for other networks or I’d have to unfollow the most popular accounts I currently follow to make sure I don’t miss out on all of the other voices I choose to follow there. If I care more about what one person says than another, I’ll put them in a list or their own TweetDeck column (Twitter could take a page from its own tool if it really wants to improve its system).

          Twitter needs to step off any plans to curate content algorithmically and instead turn their attention to fixing and improving what they already have. Lists would be a good place to start. List imports. Better list following options. The ability to share “private” lists within limited groups. The ability to compile public lists from others into a customized list of your own. And those are just a few places to start.

          No one needs another algorithm that marketers and SEOs are going to find ways to manipulate. And no one needs another perpetual circle jerk of “influencer” dominated conversations. Much of the value in Twitter is the fact that conversations are real-time. And without real-time updates, seeing that someone’s currently online and engaging with members of their network, many of those conversations would likely never happen. The nature of Twitter revolves quite a bit around real-time conversations and immediacy. And without that immediacy, I fail to see how Twitter can maintain its relevance. The only way I can see this being valuable is if they make it optional. Give me a setting to choose how I want to receive updates, and that’s cool. Start telling me who I should pay attention to within my own custom-curated network, or what topics I should care about at any given time based on who’s yapping about them, and you’ve lost me.

          Strong enough opinion for you? 😉

          • Someone’s ears are ringing at Twitter after that one, LOL. I agree with your analysis–giving influencers another hammer doesn’t make any sense from a usability standpoint.

            What it accomplishes for TWTR financially, I imagine, is another matter. Stupid me, I advertised my books on Facebook right at the same time they throttled back organic reach. Total waste of money. If Twitter becomes pay-for-play, ugh.

          • I’m not overly worried about the payola model simply because it won’t last. Users built the network, and users can take it away. Over the last decade or so there’s been a pretty standard lifecycle for most social media tools. They usually appeal to one or more smaller key user groups. Suddenly they build buzz and start bringing in the general public. Marketers follow. Marketers (often SEOs) abuse the system. Normal users get pissed off about the constant promotion / spam instead of being able to easily find what they want. A competitor swoops in. People leave the original network. And that original network either disappears or loses a lot of its relevance.

            It happened with Myspace when it couldn’t handle its spam problem. It happened to most of the link-oriented social media tools thanks to Google and the abuse of various exchanges and bought shares (think StumbleUpon which is far less relevant now than it was in years past). And now we’re seeing it again with Facebook, and potentially Twitter. The difference is that it isn’t the typical abusers overloading users with crap they don’t have any interest in. It’s the networks themselves. It might take some time before users are upset enough for a mass migration, but it’ll happen. They’ll just wait for the right replacements (not that I hope Twitter needs one).

            In the meantime, just keep your social media marketing and networking diversified and you’ll be fine if any one network screws things up. 🙂

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