At last, a move that's worth tweeting about

There are times when I wish real life offered the same opportunities and options available to us online, and the arrival of the "mute" button on Twitter is one of those times.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still not a huge fan of Twitter and it's disjointed, truncated discussions. Maybe it's a sign of old age, or (even more likely), lack of patience, but I prefer the tidily tied together, threaded conversations that Facebook provides. Sure, there is the whole issue of your privacy being thrown out the window, but if you overlook that minor hiccup, Facebook is nearly perfect. If you don't mind the constantly changing user interface, the ever increasing array of ads, the aforementioned privacy issue and the frequent scam attempts by people pretending to be your friends.

Even with all that, I still prefer it over Twitter (disclaimer: Yes, I use Twitter, but I really just feed it with automated posts from my blogs).

However, this week Twitter has done something useful. No, the site's "fail whale" (the illustration that appears in Twitter's error message when the site is overloaded) hasn't been given a makeover. Instead, users now have the option of using the "mute" button to block posts from people they don't want to hear from.

My initial thought was that it could be a useful feature for those who don't want to hear the "I'm a genius" ramblings of the likes of Kanye West, but then I figured it would be just as easy to simply not follow them in the first place. However, according to Twitter, muting someone not only stops any messages they tweet from appearing in the timeline of whoever hit the virtual mute button, it also means push or text messages from muted Twitter accounts will not be delivered. However, other people will still be able to see, retweet, or comment on Twitter posts of those who have muted them.

Clear as mud.

It would be a useful feature to have in real life, though: next time someone starts burbling about something boring and mundane - cricket, for example - hit the mute button and you're sorted. In the past 24 hours alone, I've been subjected to conversation attempts that involved politics, cricket and folding fitted sheets, all of which were perfect mute button candidates.

The Southland Times