When it comes to social networks, Twitter is as noisy as it gets. You’d think the 140-character limitation would make it quiter, but in reality, it’s pretty much the opposite. This makes Twitter a hard bird to crack when it comes to keeping up with updates. You either don’t follow a lot of people, and stay on the sidelines of the community, or follow all the people in your field, and suffer the consequences.
If you feel overwhelmed with things you don’t care about, there are several simple solutions. You can, of course, unfollow the friend who keeps talking about football, and unfollow the colleague who keeps becoming the Mayor of his office, but by doing that you might be hurting someone’s feeling, or just losing touch with someone who’s actually interesting some of the time. Another option is to create Twitter lists, and keep an eye on users or subjects that really interest you, but this doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself reading tweets you simply don’t care about.
When these options are not good enough, there’s a third option: filters. Unfortunately, these filters depend on Twitter’s API, which keeps changing, and are also not liked by Twitter in general. Many such services that used to exist are now defunct, and finding some that actually work turned out to be quite a challenge. But worry not, here at MakeUseOf we’re always up for a challenge, and I’ve managed to find several ways for you to filter out annoying or just unnecessary updates.
TweetDeck (& Other Clients)
Many Twitter clients offer the ability to filter out keywords, phrases, users and/or sources. I will focus on TweetDeck for the purpose of this post, but other clients such as Destroy Twitter, Hibari and Tweetings also offer this feature.
To create a filter on TweetDeck, click on the cog icon and access the Settings. From here, choose Global Filters, and set the filters of your choice. On TweetDeck, you can filter out keywords, phrases, users and sources. Note that these filters are global, and will apply to all the users you’re managing through TweetDeck.
This option exists only in TweetDeck’s desktop client, and not on the Chrome app.
Filttr is more than a Twitter filter, it’s a Web Twitter client in itself. Aside from the usual tweet-retweet options, Filttr also offers powerful filters that can help you keep your Twitter stream in line and get only the updates you really care about. This can be done by using several features. The simplest one is called “Keyphrases”, and lets you create a blacklist and whitelist of keywords, users, etc. You can also control what happens if the whitelist and blacklist contradict each other.
This is only the beginning of what Flitter has to offer, however. From the Settings menu, you can also created aliases, which include users, search terms or both, and can help you get updates that match to the criteria you set. You can also set priorities to each and every one of the people you follow, to determine which ones you care more about, without entirely giving up on others.
Filttr is a brilliant way to take charge of your Twitter stream, if you can get used to its quirky color scheme and interface. It even has a mobile interface, if you need one.
Open Tweet Filter [Chrome]
If you’d rather use Twitter’s regular Web interface, you can opt for a Chrome extension. Open Tweet Filter adds a filtering feature to the usual Twitter interface, and lets you filter out any keyword, hashtag or username you wish. To set your filters, go to twitter.com and click on the cog icon. You’ll see that a new “Filters” option has been added. This where you can set your new filters.
If you choose to receive reports on filtered tweets, you’ll find them on the left side of the interface, right under your profile summary. There’s no easy way to see which tweets have been filtered, but you can always disable the filter to get your tweets back. Easy and simple.
Slipstream is yet another Chrome extension with filtering abilities, which you can use to hide tweets from certain users or subjects, from some or all of your timelines. Like Open Tweet Filter, Slipstream works on Twitter’s regular Web interface. There are two ways to use Slipstream: you can create filters using the Slipstream menu on the left side of your interface, or click “hide” on tweets you don’t want to see to create an automatic (yet editable) filter.
You can also create sophisticated filters by combining users with keywords. For example, you can decide to hide tweets by certain users, only when they tweet about subjects you don’t like. This is very useful if you have friends who tend to tweet about boring things, but still tweet some things you don’t want to miss.
The bottom line of all this is that you don’t have to put up with things you don’t want to read. Twitter is a bustling social network with lots of traffic, and taming this traffic somewhat can really help you stay updated on the truly important stuff.
What do you think about filtering tweets? Is it better to unfollow people and be done with it? Do you know of other tools for filtering out annoying tweets?
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