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TheStreet Open House

Mute Button Not an Answer to Twitter Users' Problems: StockTwits.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) is turning down the noise. But the quieter environment may not help reaccelerate growth, say StockTwits' users.

The micro-blogging company unveiled a new feature Monday that allows Twitter users to "mute" others on the site, effectively blocking certain users postings from appearing in feeds. Muted users do not receive any notification that they are muted, avoiding awkward conversations with semi-friends who feel the need to broadcast what they eat for lunch.

Twitter is experimenting with a mute feature in its mobile apps http://stks.co/c0VTe $TWTR http://stks.co/j0Z4J ? Kas (@jackdamn) May. 2 at 08:04 AM

The muted user will still be able to fave, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won't see any of that activity in your timeline," wrote Twitter product manager Paul Rosania in a post. "The muted user will not know that you've muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time."

Twitter shares climbed nearly 5.5% by 3p.m., though investors didn't cite "mute" as a reason. Most of the gains were attributed to a continued relief rally following last week's sharp, insider-driven, selloff. The $34 stock is still down more than 17% from May 5, the day before selling restrictions expired on Twitter insiders' shares.

$TWTR Loving this momentum. Glad I purchased sub-30. ? JT (@eightmotives) May. 12 at 02:23 PM

Sentiment on Twitter remains majority bearish, according to StockTwits' analytics. About 54% of users feel negatively on Twitter.

Still, the news is a sign that Twitter is taking demands for more robust features seriously. The eight-year-old site has seen slowing user growth. And a Deutsche Bank survey earlier this year listed inability to find relevant information and lack of filters as a major reason why people quit Twitter or use the site less often.

Why people quit Twitter. (via Quartz) $TWTR $FB http://stks.co/t08Fm ? Kas (@jackdamn) Mar. 24 at 03:43 PM

But some StockTwits' users doubt that the "mute" feature will encourage more people to spend time on Twitter. In fact, it could drive some people away.

The mute feature clouds Twitter's relational field http://stks.co/p0Ju8 $TWTR ? Phil Pearlman (@ppearlman) May. 12 at 02:57 PM

In a blog post, Phil Pearlman, interactive editor at Yahoo! Finance and a former executive editor at StockTwits, said the new feature could hurt user loyalty by confusing relationships. One reason Twitter has grown so quickly and has a loyal following is that "everyone understands the rules," he wrote. People are followed or not. Now, a user will not know if their comments are really seen or if a follower has muted them.

"In the big scheme of things, it's probably a minor erosion in product quality," Pearlman wrote.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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