Imagine, if you will, a family member or close friend. You care about this person, and value them for their perspective on the world. Except, as it happens, on that *one* subject. Maybe their political views are lifted wholesale from Fox or MSNBC. Maybe they parrot talk radio’s outrage of the day about sports or celebrity culture. Or during Premier League games they shout at the TV as if they were at a pub. Or perhaps this person loves to get your goat by telling you what other folks are saying about you, and then when you get mad backing off and saying, “hey, I’m not the one saying it!” (Or, in Twitter-speak: “RT != endorsement”.)
What if you could hear everything that person has to say in their own voice, but could selectively not be confronted by the annoying ventriloquized bits?
Friends, I’m here to tell you about disabling retweets in Twitter, which does *exactly* this.
If you’ve been on Twitter for more than a few minutes, then you are aware of the “retweet” (RT), a feature that allows you to repost someone else’s tweet to your own followers. (The retweet has a fascinating history, summarized usefully here by Anne Helmond.) Retweets can accomplish lots of good things: they can promote community and fellow-feeling; they can provide signal boost to stories or links; and they can help people make new connections. (I much prefer to discover new people to follow when they’ve been retweeted rather than through mechanisms such as follow Friday.)
To me, on balance, retweets are good things. But sometimes a particular user will drive you a little crazy with what they retweet. For example, there’s someone I follow whose retweets are always the same: they’re votes in Twitter polls about sporting events. I can safely say that I don’t need to see those RTs from that account--but I’d be sad not to have that person’s perspective in my timeline. Similarly, I follow a bunch of media organizations to get news, which is helpful--but, again, I don’t need to see their various RT-based contests.
It is possible to disable retweets from a particular account. This isn’t the same as unfollowing: Any actual tweets from the account will still appear in your timeline. But all those annoying RTs--gone. It’s a beautiful thing.
There are (at least) two different ways to disable retweets. The first is in a Twitter client. For example, Tweetbot supports this feature on both the Mac and iOS:
For me, this is fine: I’ve basically settled on Tweetbot across all platforms for Twitter, and so this seems reliable. However, not all apps implement the feature, and so if you use different apps across different devices, then you need a different way.
Disabling retweets is a native feature in Twitter, so if you want to be certain that you’ve disabled RTs from a particular account, then go to Twitter’s website and block them there:
From that point on, you won’t see anything that that user retweets via the RT button, until you come back and re-enable the feature.
Thanks to Dan Cohen, in conversation with Sarah Werner, Alan Jacobs, and then a host of others, for bringing this feature to my attention!
What about you? Do you manage retweets on Twitter? Let us know in comments!
Photo “Retweet” by Flickr user Rosaura Ochoa / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0