Written by Internet

Muting Twitter

The other day I moaned about what I consider a shortcoming in the current Twitter Android app – the inability to turn off notifications that tell you that some people you follow are discussing something. I might be missing out! I should get on Twitter right now seems to be the idea.

That could be fixed with a toggle within the app. Those who did want to discuss a pointless reality TV show can do so. I’m not interested.

Well a wider Twitter problem is people talking about things you’re not interested in showing up in your timeline in general. If you don’t watch the TV programme or sports event that perhaps several of the people you follow are very excited about, it can make your timeline feel like “spam”. I avoid Twitter on Saturday nights in the autumn for this very reason.

An extreme reaction is just to unfollow the individual(s). But they might be a friend or colleague, or just someone you’re otherwise interested in. You just don’t share their passion for a particular reality TV show or whatever.

So how about if you could just mute them for an hour? Click a little button that removes them from your timeline for a bit until the water is safe and their event is over.

I know that there are various apps that let you manually do things like this. Perhaps screen out a certain hashtag or keyword. But I was thinking of something more embedded into the fabric of Twitter so it’d be available in all apps.

I suspect that it goes against the grain of Twitter to build that functionality in. They are, after all, determined that I spend every waking moment on the service. But downside is that I am just going to unfollow people. And that’s not something Twitter wants me to do either.

Case in point: last night I was watching the big Man City v Chelsea clash, and was keen to see the Twitter reaction to Chelsea’s win. At the same time, a programme I’ve grown to loathe – Girls – was on Sky Atlantic. I follow both HBO UK and Sky Atlantic’s Twitter accounts. But during the broadcast, their Tweets became unbearable. They pointlessly and endlessly Tweeted quotes from the show for those with the attention span of a gnat who were “second screening” during the programme. Look – I may not like the damn thing. But if I’m going to watch it, I’m going to pay attention to the screen and not be Tweeting every second. Dumb reality shows and sports are different. There’s not a smart script to be missing out on.

Anyway, I was close to unfollowing both accounts, even though they’re otherwise useful. If I could have just muted them for a bit, it’d have made me much happier. And I think it’d make Twitter more useful.