Twitter used to be where I followed tech luminaries to get smart on tech. Since the election of President Donald Trump, however, Twitter has turned into a comparatively dumb receptacle of fist-shaking invective. I don't have any love for Trump, but it has driven me crazy to have to read about him 24/7.
Crazy enough to finally pull the plug on Facebook, which has proved to be a serious upgrade to my life. Twitter, however, is where I get and share work-related information. As such, I couldn't lightly turn it off.
Thanks to a tweet from my friend and former colleague Majd Taby, however, I don't have to. Instead of muting Twitter, I've muted any reference to Trump, and Twitter is suddenly mostly signal with little noise.
Here's how you, too, can reclaim the Twitter of yesteryear.
Could you please be quiet?
That Twitter, in case you don't remember, can actually be a fantastic sea of useful information. Since muting Trump from my Twitter life, I have been shocked to rediscover how fantastic Twitter is. Sure, there's still silly posturing and, to be clear, the people I follow still find ways to insert their commentary on Trump into my timeline, usually by making oblique references to him. Little by little, I've added words (e.g., "POTUS") to my mute list to excise mentions of him, and it's working.
In fact, I'd guess that mentions of Trump are down 99% in my timeline. Suddenly, it's fine going back into the Twitter water again. It's amazing.
I'm sure someone will tell me that I'm being irresponsible, that I have some sort of civic duty to read their "very important retweet" of what Trump recently said. I don't care. I still read plenty about Trump in The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I just don't want to read what this tech CEO or that analyst thinks about him. I value their opinions, but I need a break from all things Trump.
Taking control of your Twitter timeline
Fortunately, Twitter allows you to mute certain words. You can choose to mute them solely from your timeline or from both the timeline and notifications. You also get to choose whether you want to avoid the cursed word for a day, a week, a month, or forever. And, of course, you can always go back to edit the manner and duration of the ban.
How you reach this magical place depends on whether you're accessing Twitter's settings from your desktop web browser or from the app. If the website, click on your picture (Profile and Settings) in the top-right corner of the screen, then choose Settings and privacy. There you'll see an option on the left called Muted words. Once in, the process is pretty self-explanatory.
SEE: Every Trump White House tech fail so far (ZDNet)
In the mobile app, the process is a little less obvious. Tap on the Me icon, then the Settings icon, then Settings and privacy, and then (and here's the less obvious part) Privacy and safety. Scroll down to the very bottom and you'll see Muted words, and voila! You'll see the place to add or edit your way to a blissful Twitter existence again.
For you, it may not be about Trump. Maybe, for example, you hate commentary about certain European football clubs. In that case, just replace "Trump" with the name of your team of choice and mute your way to whatever peaceful Twitter experience you desire.
- Silicon Valley CTO explains why Trump happened (TechRepublic)
- Twitter works to rid of trolls with keyword muting, reporting (ZDNet)
- Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why he met with President-elect Donald Trump (ZDNet)
- Every Trump White House tech fail so far (ZDNet)
- Trump administration to move all federal IT into the cloud: Is it realistic? (TechRepublic)
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.