Home How To Keep Your Chatty Friends From Overwhelming You On Social Media

How To Keep Your Chatty Friends From Overwhelming You On Social Media

Social media is a real land of confusion these days. Between that long-winded Facebook friend who was a neighbor in college and those tweeters posting endless updates about events we really don’t care about, there are too many people making too many problems on the Internet.

But we’re all human, and as much as we might like to tell our friends and acquaintances to stop posting selfies or tweeting meaningless hashtags, it’s really hard to be straight with them. Which is why muting the noise from your feeds can be as effective as hitting the same button on your television remote control.

So what’s the best way to handle over-sharers? The most popular social networks have different ways of culling people from your feeds, whether by blocking them entirely or just tuning them out until they learn to moderate their own worst impulses.

Mute That Tweet

Twitter is taking a second, much needed stab at a mute function after completely botching it the first time around. Soon you’ll be able to mute people on Twitter.com as well as the iOS and Android Twitter applications.

See also: Twitter Reverts Blocking Policy After User Outrage

Once you’ve muted someone, their tweets and retweets don’t show up in your timeline, and you won’t receive push or text notifications from them. Unlike blocking someone, the muted user won’t know you’ve decided you’d rather not see their tweets.

The new feature has been a long time coming. In fact, Twitter is finally catching up to features that third-party Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Tweetdeck have offered for years. The third-party apps, in fact, still do it better; for instance, they’ll let you mute hashtags and phrases, not just people.

See also: The Social Web Needs Smart Mute Buttons

Last year, Twitter made a change to its blocking policy that effectively changed “block” to “mute.” Twitter said it was because users could get antagonistic when they learned that another user had blocked them—usually because they tried to follow someone’s account but couldn’t. The company reversed itself after users complained. Now muting has been reborn as an entirely separate feature. 

Essentially, muting does the same thing blocking someone on Twitter does, with one big difference: People don’t know they’ve been muted, and muted users can still follow you.

So why not just block someone, if you don’t want to hear what they have to say? I’ve been using mute on Tweetdeck, so I understand the value. Occasionally I’ll mute people because they’re being retweeted into my timeline, and I don’t want to see their tweets, or because they’re at an event or conference and are live-tweeting the entire thing. As one of my followers points out, she follows people who tweet generic links that she doesn’t want to see, but she still wants to be able to send them direct messages, a privilege reserved for mutual followers. 

There are a couple of downsides to Twitter’s mute feature, however. You can only mute users, not phrases or hashtags, and you can’t mute someone for a specific period of time. That means in order to unmute someone, you’ll have to do it manually.

Some users might find Twitter’s new feature confusing, especially considering that the company is simplifying everything to appeal to the masses. Having a mute and block option that do almost the same thing could be more difficult to explain to new Twitter users, and might end up making both features trickier to figure out. The new mute feature will be rolling out to everyone over the next couple of weeks.

How To Block On Twitter

  • Go to a Twitter user’s profile on Twitter.com or the mobile app
  • Select the gear icon for “settings” 
  • Select “block @username”

How To Mute On Twitter

  • Go to a Twitter user’s profile on Twitter.com or the mobile app
  • Select the gear icon for “settings” 
  • Select “mute @username”

Ignoring, Or Eliminating, Facebook Friends

Facebook is the most popular site for over-sharing. I’ve dealt with that problem by cutting back my friends list, but that’s not a solution for everyone. Some people want to remain friends with users who post too many status updates complaining about their job, they just don’t want to hear it.

Blocking someone on Facebook takes them off your friends list. That prevents them from seeing anything you post on your timeline or from having any further contact with you. Unfriending someone also means you won’t see their posts in your timeline.

For a more passive-aggressive way to tune out your friends list, you can always “unfollow.” Facebook introduced the unfollow feature late last year as a replacement for “Hide All,” a way to hide posts you don’t care about from friends, without unfriending them entirely. If you want, you can still check out their profile from time to time, and if and when they learn that not everyone cares about what they’re eating for lunch, you can follow them back to see updates in your timeline. 

How To Block On Facebook

  • On the top right corner of your home timeline, select the lock icon “Privacy shortcuts”
  • Select “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” 
  • Enter the name or email of the person you want to block

How To Unfollow On Facebook

  • When you see that person’s post in your timeline, select the down arrow to the right
  • Select “Unfollow friend”
  • Or, you could go to their profile and hit “unfollow” right under the cover photo

Blocking Food Porn And Selfies

Instagram, the most popular social photo sharing and editing application, is a little less restrictive than Facebook. Instagram accounts, like Twitter, are all public, so unless you set your account to private, anyone can see what you’re snapping photos of. There’s no way to mute the people you follow—but you can mute their videos

If you block someone, the user will be unable to see your profile and posts, but they will still be able to @mention you, and those @mentions will appear in your notifications. If you block someone, there’s no way for that user to know. 

It’s unclear why the company thinks a blocked user should be allowed to @mention the person who blocked them and why their tagged posts show up in the user’s feed. Instagram’s blocking policy says that if you’d rather not have a blocked user @mention you, just change your username. 

“If you block someone and then change your username, it’ll prevent them from being able to @mention you.” 

That might work until the blocked user figures out your new username. I’ve reached out to Instagram to see why their blocking policy is so toothless, and I’ll update this post if and when I hear back.

How To Block On Instagram

  • Select the “Explore” icon from the bottom
  • Search for the username 
  • On the user’s profile, select the top right “share” icon
  • Select “Block user”

Separate Business And Timelines

LinkedIn finally announced a block function earlier this year that prevents a user from accessing your profile, interacting with you, and viewing network activity. Unlike more social-based platforms like Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is a professional network, and one that most users want to be as big as possible. So simply dropping objectionable types as a connection might not be your best option.

If you don’t want to see updates from people in your network but still want to view or contact them at any time, you can simply hide their updates on your homepage. Like Facebook’s unfollow feature, hiding someone on LinkedIn prevents you from seeing any posts from that person in the future. 

To Hide Someone On LinkedIn

  • Hover over their post
  • Select “Hide” in the top right corner

Clean Up Your Feeds

Getting rid of the social media clutter seems like a daunting task, but it can make the online social experience so much better.

If, like me, you’re tired of the over-sharing, now might be a good time to tone down the noise from your friends and followers. But don’t worry, you don’t have to tell them first. 

Lead image courtesy of Rocketboom on Flickr; all other images screenshots by Selena Larson

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