Mute Twitter keywords to avoid spoilers

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Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Twitter is a swamp of spoilers. You can’t move for tweets about the plot of the new Star Wars movie or spoilers about whatever new TV show is dropping all its new episodes this week. There are two ways to avoid spoilers. One is to avoid Twitter entirely.

The other is to mute keywords, so you don’t see references to — well, references to whatever you want. Mutes don’t have to be about the long-awaited meeting between Spock and Obi-Wan, though. You can mute anything. You could avoid all mentions of President Donald Trump, for example. Brits could stanch the flow of Brexit mentions. Or you might temporarily mute mentions of a sports event if it’s taking over your timeline.

Where to mute keywords on Twitter

There are two options for muting keywords on Twitter. One is to do it in your Twitter app of choice. This is usually easy, and immediate, because you’re always in that app. And if you never use another app, or visit the Twitter website, then it’s a great option. However, in-app mutes may be limited to that app. If you switch apps, you lose your mutes.

The mute screen is buried in Twitter’s notification settings.
The mute screen is buried in Twitter’s notification settings.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Option 2 is to brave the Twitter website and do your muting there.

Open up Twitter in your browser, and tap on the notifications tab (the bell). Then, tap the settings cog, which appears at the top right. Here, in the Filters section, tap Mute. This takes you to yet another screen, this time with options for muting accounts and muting words. Tap Muted words.

How to mute keywords on Twitter

This is where we get busy. Tap the + sign to add a mute. The mute screen is pretty self-explanatory.

Stick your head in the sand with Twitter mutes.
Stick your head in the sand with Twitter mutes.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Add the word or phrase you want to mute at the top. If you add the word football, for example, then both football and #football will be muted. Another neat trick is to mute @replies. If you mute @mistercharlie, for example, then you will never see tweets that mention me, but I will still be visible in your timeline.

The next block of the mute panel lets you set the scope of the mute. You can apply the mute to your timeline and/or mentions. You can also choose to mute everyone, or only matching tweets from people you don’t follow.

Finally, you can specify a time period. The default is Forever, but you can also mute a word or phrase temporarily — for 24 hours, a day or a month. I use these all the time to avoid spoilers, or “news” stories that blow up but that just don’t interest me.

How to unmute Twitter mutes

Unmute Twitter keywords by tapping the red mute button.
Unmute by tapping the red mute button.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Once you’ve added some mutes, you’ll see a list of them in the Muted Words panel. There will be a red mute symbol next to each one. Just tap or click on this to unmute the keyword or phrase. It will be removed from your mutes, so if you want to re-add it, you’ll have to start over.

Keyword muting on Twitter is great. Maybe you follow an otherwise excellent tweeter who occasional gets loaded and tweet-storms about baseball. You could mute them temporarily every time they do it, but it’s better to just mute a few related keywords and take care of the problem once and for all. Which brings us to keyword choice.

Pick good keywords

In the above example, I could mute baseball, but who actually uses the word “baseball” when they write about baseball? Depending on the person you’re following, try muting words like sox and yankees instead. For a spoiler-free timeline, try muting spoiler forever, and temporarily adding the title of the movie, plus the main characters. You get the idea. Think about what people will write, and mute those words. Don’t just mute “title” words.

Go try it.