For the past few weeks, tech blogs have been speculating that Twitter is set to introduce a new “mute” feature, which would allow users to temporarily—or permanently—muzzle someone by blocking their tweets from their timeline. Today, Twitter announced on their blog that they’re officially rolling out the “mute” button, meaning you never have to suffer through another live-tweeted conference or your great-aunt’s anti-Obama rantings ever again.

Here’s a brief description of the new feature from Twitter’s blog. All you have to do is go the user’s profile, click the “gear” icon, and select “Mute @Username":

In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you’d like to hear from less. Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user.

If you’ve muted someone, they can still favorite and retweet tweets on your own timeline; you just won’t be able to see any of theirs. The best part is that users won’t have any indication that you’ve muted them, so if you have to follow someone for work or family-related reasons, you can theoretically follow them on Twitter without ever having to see anything they tweet.

Of course, Twitter’s “mute” button is not the only way you can block selected tweets on your timeline, as TweetDeck and TweetBot also allow you to block people’s tweets. But this is the first time Twitter has given users the resources to mute on their own. It might seem like a small or inconsequential step for some, but for those who are regularly bullied or harassed on Twitter, the ability to mute people could be just the tool they need to feel like they have more control over their own social media experience. Now, if only we could develop a “mute” button in real life, then we’d be in business.

H/T Twitter | Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)