Twitter is a fast, fluid way to keep your finger on the pulse of just about everything, but it’s also a place where the discourse can quickly become disorganized, combative, or downright toxic.

The team behind Twitter knows this, and its engineers are continually rolling out new features to help manage abuse if and when it becomes a problem.

Recently, the company debuted a feature that lets you selectively hide replies to your tweets. Here’s how you can use it and a variety of other tools to ensure your Twitter timeline is a pleasant place to be.

Hide replies

This is a relatively new Twitter feature, and one you might not yet have noticed. If you click (or tap) the little down arrow next to a tweet, you’ll get a Hide reply option. This won’t delete the reply, but it’ll disappear and anyone viewing your tweet (including you) will see only a small icon that indicates the existence of hidden replies. Viewers will need an extra click to actually see them, though.

To unhide a reply, click the Hidden replies button to the lower right of your tweet, then the down arrow, and select Unhide reply. The user who posted the reply won’t be notified when you hide or unhide it. When you hide a reply, Twitter will also give you the option to block the account that posted it.

Block users

If there’s another account on Twitter that you’re having serious problems with, you can block it. Just click the down arrow next to any tweet in your timeline, then choose Block to blacklist the account that posted it. You can also block someone while you’re on their profile page by clicking the More button (three dots) and choosing Block.

When you block a user, they won’t be able to view your tweets, message you, or follow you. They also won’t get a notification that they’ve been blocked, but if they visit your profile page, they will notice that they can’t see your tweets. You can’t follow someone you’ve blocked, and you won’t see their tweets in your timeline, either. To see accounts you’ve blocked, and unblock them if needed, go to the More button again, then navigate through Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Blocked accounts. Or, if you’re looking for a shortcut, just click here.

Mute accounts

Popular Science's Twitter account with the mute option highlighted
You’d better not! David Nield

Muting is not quite as severe as blocking—you can hide someone from view, without their knowledge, and without unfollowing them. As with the Block option, you’ll find Mute in the drop-down menu next to individual tweets, and behind the More button (three dots) on individual profile pages.

Essentially, the major difference between blocking and muting is that muted users can still send you direct messages and will appear in your notifications if they interact with you on Twitter. Still, their tweets won’t show up in your timeline. To see accounts you’ve muted, and unmute them if necessary, follow essentially the same path as you would if you were viewing blocked accounts: go to the More button, then navigate through Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted (web only) > Muted accounts. Or just head here.

Mute words

Twitter also lets you mute specific words from your timeline—you can cut out all mentions of a particular TV show (maybe you’re trying to avoid spoilers), specific celebrities (perhaps you have no interest in hearing about them), or any words you’d just rather not read.

From the Twitter menu on desktop or mobile, choose Settings and privacy, followed by Privacy and safety, then Muted (web only), and Muted words. You can add new words and phrases via the plus button. Letter case doesn’t matter when you mute words, and muting applies to replies and mentions as well as tweets in your timeline.

Tweak your timeline

a Twitter timeline with the option to show fewer tweets and other options
The digital equivalent of closing the door in someone’s face but you can still kind of hear them outside. David Nield

If tweets from a particular account are proving annoying or are simply no longer of interest, you can just unfollow the account. Click the down arrow next to a tweet, then choose Unfollow. Spending a few minutes unfollowing some unsavory or uninteresting accounts you’ve added to your timeline over the years can make checking Twitter a much less stressful experience.

Click the down arrow next to any of the tweets in your timeline and you’ll also see an option labeled Show less often. This tells Twitter’s algorithms you want to see fewer tweets from a particular account in your timeline, or fewer tweets on a particular topic, without actually blocking or muting any accounts.

Block sensitive media

Another way Twitter lets you control what you see in your timeline is by blocking images and videos that its algorithms or its users have flagged as “sensitive content,” such as nudity or depictions of violence. Any media like this will need an extra click or tap to view.

Such material is hidden by default, but if you’ve disabled the setting for whatever reason, you can get back to it via Settings and privacy on the Twitter app menu on desktop and mobile. First, select Privacy and safety, then disable the Display media that may contain sensitive content option.

Know your reporting options

Twitter's options to block and report a user, or to leave the conversation
You have the power. David Nield

Twitter lets you report individual tweets or entire accounts if you think they breach Twitter’s terms of service—content that’s spammy, illegal, or abusive, for example. You can find a list of examples of reportable conditions within the platform’s larger help center.

Accounts and tweets can be reported in various places: the drop-down menu next to individual tweets, the More menu (the three dots) on Twitter profiles, and from conversations in direct messages (click the “i” button in the top right-hand corner). If you’re reporting something that’s abusive or harmful, you may be asked to include extra information in your report.

Protect your account

Your Twitter account can be public (viewable by anyone), or protected (viewable only by people you’ve specifically accepted follow requests from). If you want to take more control over who can see what you’re tweeting and who can interact with you, consider switching to a protected account.

You can do so from Settings and privacy in Twitter’s menu: Tap Privacy and safety, then Protect your Tweets. Any followers you had before the switch will remain, but new ones must be specifically approved.