Mute an account

This feature allows the user to remove from their timeline the tweets of an account without unfollowing or blocking them and, unlike these actions, the muted account will not know that you have muted them. Muted accounts can still see your content on Twitter but you will not be notified if the muted user tags the media outlet in a photo or mentions it in a tweet. The muted account’s tweets will still be visible if you visit the account’s profile.

Please click here to learn how to mute accounts

Muted users who are still followed by the media outlet will still be able to send you a direct message. This can be avoided by unfollowing the account, if desired, and by disabling direct messages for accounts that the media outlet does not follow.

Advanced muting options: This allows the user to set up a series of filters to avoid seeing tweets that contain particular words, phrases, usernames, emojis, or hashtags. Twitter notes that “muting words and hashtags only applies to your notifications and Home timeline. You will still see these Tweets via search.”

Please click here to learn how to use advanced muting options

Block an account

This feature allows Twitter users to restrict specific accounts from seeing their tweets, following and contacting them.

Users who are blocked by a media outlet’s moderation team will not be able to:

  • Follow the media outlet’s official account or view the accounts the outlet follows, the moments the outlets creates, or its lists;
  • See the outlet’s tweets when logged into the platform;
  • Contacting the outlet via direct message;
  • Add the outlet’s account to their lists; or
  • Tag the outlet in a photo.

Also, blocked users will not receive a notification informing them about the block. However, when they visit the media outlet’s Twitter profile they will seethat they have been blocked (unlike muting, which is invisible to muted accounts).

Audience moderation teams who blocked an account will not be able to:

  • Follow that account;
  • Receive notifications when the blocked account has mentioned (@sample) the media outlet in a tweet. However, the media outlet will receive a notification if a non-blocked account has mentioned both you and the blocked account. However, Twitter allows you to check all mentions by searching by username.

Please click here to learn how to block an account. Please click here to learn how to manage your list of blocked accounts.

Experts on social media consulted by IPI also noted that blocking is an incomplete tool because if the person behind the blocked account signs off Twitter and searches for your Twitter account (e.g., on Google), they can still see what you have published. Twitter urges users to keep this limitation in mind.

Muting vs blocking

Most of the experts consulted by IPI said that while they tended to use blocking for accounts that consistely disseminate spam or scams -including bots and organic accounts-, they preferred muting to deal with cases of online abuse and smear campaigns. This preference is rooted in the following reasons:

  • Respects freedom of speech: As opposed to blocking, muted accounts can still tag the media outlet in their tweets, but the moderators will not be exposed to abusive language since they don’t receive a notification.
  • Muting allows moderators to still assess if the muted account has sent a credible, imminent threat against the media organization or its staff, since moderators can still visit the profile of the muted account. Blocked accounts, by contrast, cannot be viewed by moderators and potential credible threats may not be seen.
  • Muting dissipates abuse towards the media outlet and its staff on social media: Muted users are not notified that they have been muted and their abusive tweets do not reach the targeted account. Blocked users, however, are notified, which may trigger a backlash and result in further abuse.