Twitter turns on mute feature

People can now mute users, even without blocking them -- a feature Twitter aimed for with a brief but controversial change to its blocking policy in December.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read

Twitter has implemented a new mute feature, which allows users to turn off others' tweets. James Martin/Twitter

Twitter users can now mute others, meaning that their tweets will not show up in a timeline.

The new feature, which Twitter announced in a blog post Monday, allows you to avoid seeing tweets from people you'd rather avoid. However, they will still be able to see your tweets and retweets. The new tool appears to be what Twitter was aiming for when it briefly changed its blocking policy in December, igniting a firestorm of controversy.

"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less," Twitter wrote in its blog post. "Muting a user on Twitter means their tweets and retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."

However, Twitter noted, muting someone does not mean they will not be able to see your tweets or retweets.

Traditionally, blocking someone on Twitter meant that they would no longer be able to see anything you posted to the service. In December, Twitter changed the policy to make it so that blocking someone merely meant you would no longer see their tweets or retweets, but they could still see yours. That move was met by ferocious opposition, leading to Twitter to reluctantly backtrack within a day.

"In reverting this change to the block function, users will once again be able to tell that they've been blocked," Twitter explained in December when it reverted back to the original blocking policy. "We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users (and sometimes their friends) that often occurs. Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation."

The new tool seems to be Twitter's attempt to implement what it was going for when it briefly changed the blocking policy. But now, the blocking feature, as it stood before and after the December controversy, remains unaffected -- users who want to fully block someone will still be able to, while those who simply want to mute tweets from someone else, either temporarily or permanently, are now able to.

Twitter declined to comment on the relationship between the new mute feature and its blocking tool.