Twitter accidentally released a new feature for a few minutes last Sunday—and it’s a doozy. Twitter will now allow users to “mute” words or phrases from appearing on your timeline. It’s a functionality that users have been clamoring for and is long overdue. (We really could have used this during the Presidential campaign). But what does it mean?
Well, if early returns are anything, the user experience is about to get much better. It’s not hard to see the potential applications: You’d be able to sort out anything from the latest Taylor Swift news (Drake? Really??) to the outright offensive and racist. Groups like the Anti-Defamation League have decried Twitter’s reticence to act on reports of racial and religious harassment on the platform, so this could be one way for users to take some measure of action on their own. While it’s far from a perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction.
Marketers could have reason to cheer too. Getting the perfect ad placement is always a challenge on any platform, much less Twitter. An ads platform in which advertisers can avoid some awkward placements would therefore be a big win for Twitter and for advertisers.
This move may also be an act of signaling to potential buyers. There has been quite a bit of buzz lately around potential investors (or non-investors, as it would be) amid falling revenue. Indeed, some investors have been scared off by the bad apples on the platform that make it a poor venue to interact with consumers. So this could be a move from Twitter indicating that they take these concerns seriously and are working to remedy them.
In the meantime, this is pure speculation: The feature isn’t expected to be (re)released for some time. However, for a brand that is in sore need of some good news, this is one step in the right direction.
Kathryn DeVito is a Senior Vice President and Chair of LEVICK’s Digital Practice.