Last year a staggering 316 million users around the world were active on Twitter - that's a lot of tweeting. 

But what do you do when your timeline has too much content to keep up with or you're being tagged in some dubious posts?

The 'mute' feature has been around for almost three years now and allows users to mute other users without unfollowing them.

But why not just unfollow or block someone?

Blocking someone stops the person interacting with you by following, or sending an @ or direct message to your account.

Unfollowing is probably more useful for most users when dealing with abuse or people they don’t want to see in their timeline, there are some scenarios where muting is the best way to go.

Muting allows you to still receive mentions or @replies from users, although they will not be pushed to your device if you have that feature enabled. This effectively removes a user from your Twitter stream without alerting them to the fact that you have muted them and are not seeing their tweets.

Evening Times:

Here are 10 examples of when muting might be the best option:

1. I like you but don't want to listen to you all the time

Following people can be a sign of friendship, respect or even love, but you don’t always want to read their constant chatter or listen to their lengthy rants.

Muting those people, as long as you're careful, should work fine.

Just be sure to check their streams every now and again - in case they've said something you need to respond to, and to keep up the illusion that you read everything they post.

2. I hate you but I’m a bit scared of you

Sadly, there are some people on Twitter that are a dangerous unknown.

They’re the kind of people who could do anything, like go on an all-out personal attack, and you can’t predict how they will react to being unfollowed or even blocked.

Muting could be the best strategy, as that person will see that you still follow him or her, but you won’t have to listen to their tweets.

3. I want you to follow me but I'm not really interested in your tweets

Many people will not follow people who do not follow them - that means you have to follow people to be followed by them.

People often initially follow others just to get them to follow back and then unfollow them – but that runs the risk of them finding out and unfollowing you.

Muting is the safer option. 

4. I want my following list to look impressive to others

Who you follow on Twitter can be a but like a status symbol.

Like books that you buy to look good on your bookshelf, but have no intention of reading, following a group of users on mute could make your online presence appear more high-brow or connected than you really are.

This course of action may fall down when others ask you what you thought of someone’s muted tweet, but it could be better than having to read endless dull posts. 

Evening Times:

5. It's not me, it's your tweets

Sometimes people become less interesting, and you’d rather not offend them, but you just can’t be bothered reading their tweets anymore.

Muting them, but not unfollowing them, could prove the perfect solution.

6. The breakup mute

Less a problem on Twitter than it is on Facebook, but when a relationship dissolves then muting your former partner could be the kindest solution.

Remove their painful reminders from your Twitter feed without looking as if you hate them by unfollowing or blocking them; even if you do.

7. Current work colleagues mute

In some jobs there sometimes feels like an obligation to follow your colleagues.

Some are bound to be interesting, others not so much.

Mute the dull ones, and just hope they don’t say anything that might get you caught out at work.

Possibly worth checking out their streams occasionally, just in case.

8. Mute old work colleagues

Do you continue to follow old work colleagues you were obliged to follow before you left their company?

Many would unfollow or even block old work colleagues, but just in case you can’t afford to annoy anyone – but don’t want to listen to their endless drivel about office gossip – muting could be the best solution.

9. Mute a ranter

While your opinion may differ from others, most don’t want to see or have their streams filled with rants, or even rapid-fire output that dominates any Twitter stream. 

Muting frequent ranters could be the answer, just for an hour or so, until they’ve calmed down and start tweeting interesting stuff again.

10. Stop someone appearing in retweets without blocking them 

When you don’t follow someone, their tweets don’t show up in your Twitter timeline, but if a user you follow retweets someone you’re trying to avoid, their tweet will appear in your timeline.

Muting those users will stop their retweets appearing in your stream, forever, and they’ll never know.

Evening Times:

For some, the choice to unfollow someone is a big decision - will your timeline be better off without them, or do they enrich your Twitter experience?

Muting someone who is on the borderline will show you how your Twitter stream will look and feel without them, before taking the plunge and unfollowing.

You could simply unfollow them, but if you change your mind and want to follow them again, they’ll get a new follower notification from you revealing your betrayal.

Better to try it out on the quiet first.