The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Haters gonna hate, but Twitter will now make it easier to ignore them.

(Eric Thayer/Reuters)
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Twitter on Monday gave its users the option to muzzle their haters, offering a "mute" feature that lets users hide certain tweets and retweets from their home timelines. If you mute someone, you will also not receive push and SMS notifications when they tweet about you.

The feature has been rumored for weeks as various users reported seeing it in limited testing. Twitter officially announced the feature for iOS, Android and Web users in a company blog post from product manager Paul Rosania.

Muting, however, is not the same as blocking. Even if you mute an annoying person on your feed, he or she will still be able to favor, reply to and retweet your own messages — you simply won't see any trace of that activity in your own home feed.

If you do choose to mute someone, they won't be notified about it. They may, however, notice that you're ignoring them.

To use the feature, Twitter users can either choose the "More" option from a tweet and select the option to mute that particular user. You can also turn on the option from the profile page of the person you'd like to ignore by hitting the gear icon when you're on their page.

The changes come amid a broader push to make over the site as Twitter looks to broaden its appeal as a communication tool. The network, which has seen its growth slow dramatically, is investing a lot of effort in making the site more accessible and easy-to-use.

The mute feature seems most effective as a temporary measure to weed out noise or just get away from an annoying person for a little while -- a step below unfollowing someone.

It doesn't seem to be an effective tool to block users -- something you might do in the case of harassment.

In those cases, Twitter users can report abuse, although the social network was the target of some criticism over the weekend for removing a part of the tool it introduced last summer to allow users to do just that on its network.

The "report abuse" tool was first introduced shortly after Caroline Criado-Perez, an activist who led a successful effort to get notable women on English and Welsh currency, publicized her frustration with being unable to report Twitter users who threatened to rape and kill her in response to her campaign. On Sunday, Criado-Perez, who still receives threatening messages on the network, said that Twitter's reporting process had changed to omit a feature on its form that automatically filled in the unique link to abusive messages -- a change that then required those reporting abuse to revisit the abusive comments in order to report them.

The change is small, Criado-Perez noted in her blog post on the subject, and "[not] that bad when it’s once in a while, perhaps. When it’s several times a day, every day, the time starts to mount up."

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the feature disappeared, but said in a message on its safety team's official Twitter account that the omission was an accident and will be fixed "soon."