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Twitter’s Changes and You: How to Escape the Terrible

Twitter

Twitter made a lot of its users angry earlier this week when it started filling their timelines with tweets from accounts they didn’t follow. What started as a test feature is now an official feature, so you can expect even more outrage in the days and weeks to come.

Twitter’s been filled with garbage I don’t care about from Day One. As of the time of this writing, I’m following 77 people – I’d like to cut that number even lower, but I haven’t purged in a while. Of those 77 people, though, a handful are muted and a far larger number (maybe about half?) have retweets turned off. Does that make me mean? Maybe. But it also keeps my timeline clutter-free.

Here are a few tips to keep your Twitter timeline clean – and nothing I’m about to mention will cost you a penny.

Use a Client Other Than Twitter

Twitter is great; Twitter.com is less than great. I do most of my Twitter reading on the computer (which probably puts me in the minority of Twitter users), so having a good Twitter client is super important.

I use TweetDeck. Available as a downloadable client and website, TweetDeck offers far more customization than Twitter. I’m able to see all tweets, notifications, my tweets, my favorites and my DMs all on one page. (On Twitter.com, I’d need to go to five different pages.) Beyond that, it offered muting and filtering long before Twitter.com did. There are probably a bunch of other great features that I haven’t uncovered yet. But it’s free and it’s more useful than Twitter; what more do you want?

Filter Out What You Don’t Care About

Just because you follow someone doesn’t mean you care about everything they say. Some clients (like TweetDeck) let you filter hashtags or keywords, so you can still get most of the tweets – with none of the ones you don’t care about. Really hate the Super Bowl? Go filter crazy and you’ll automatically unclutter your feed. Want to avoid spoilers for tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? Set up a few hashtags to filter out and you should be good to go.

I also can’t emphasize enough how much I love the ability to turn off re-tweets from the people I follow. To do that, head to that user’s Twitter.com page, click the little Settings icon, then click “Turn off Retweets.” You’ll still get all the regular tweets that person sends out – with none of the re-tweets you don’t care about. Sure, you may miss out on discovering a new account or two you might fall in love with, but if you’re meant to follow that account, life will find a way.

Don’t Follow People Out of Obligation

Twitter can become a cluttered mess if you follow everyone you’re “supposed to” follow. I’m really interested in a lot of what many of my friends have to say … just not on Twitter. I don’t follow a lot of people I’m friends with in real life, and that isn’t affecting my friendships with them. (Or is it?) There are also tons of comedians I love, but who don’t do it for me on Twitter. I don’t follow them.

Your Twitter feed should be a place where you learn new stuff, read things you can laugh about and share whatever you want. If there’s stuff (or entire accounts) on there that you don’t want to see, just unfollow! It’s that easy. (Or, if you can’t unfollow someone, don’t hesitate to mute them. It’s the easiest breakup ever.)

Learn to Love Lists

I don’t use lists, because I’ve pretty carefully crafted my timeline to be exactly what I want it to be (and you can, too, if you follow these steps). But if you’re following a ton of people and don’t want to unfollow any, lists will become your Twitter BFF.

Throw a handful of accounts you want to make sure you stay up-to-date with onto a list, and check that before you check your main timeline. Make a list of your favorite bands that tweet new concert dates so you’ll always have something to do on Friday nights. Make a list of your favorite comedians to have one place to go to when you need a laugh.

Go wild! Make lists for any and all occasions. They’re supremely easy to make, and (as far as I know) you can have an unlimited number of lists. Plus, you can add people to lists you don’t even follow! How great is that?

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More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of NBC Universal’s Live Digital with Shelly Palmer, a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.