The Unintended Consequences of Apps That Shut Up the Internet

Mute hides your personal trigger words, but should it?

By Kirk Miller

 
Mute
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11 August 2017

On days when I don’t need a reminder of the world we live in or care to hear the outrage of, well, everyone, there is Mute. Available now for Twitter and Facebook, Mute is a Chrome extension that silences up to 100 common inflammatory words, as voted on by site contributors.

“The peace I get from not seeing politics on social media makes me more calm and gives me more time left to actually affect change around me, where I actually have reach,” notes creator Pieter Levels, who also admits “this app will probably get attacked by both sides of the media, the left and right.”

The expected top 100 words are here: Trump, fake news, Kardashian, Despacito, Game of Thrones, etc.

Mute is not the first extension or app that silences various words or ideas on social media. Amongst many others, you have Rather (which started off as Unbaby.me and created some major drama with my parental friends when I endorsed it on Facebook), the no-longer-active SpoilerShield, FB Purity and Open Tweet Filter.

Overall, the app could be useful for brief respites from daily headaches or, say, avoiding Game of Thrones spoilers. But there are drawbacks, as one Product Hunt commentator rightly noted:  

When put that way, it makes you question the ramifications of apps that filter out the Internet. Because sure, replacing unwanted words or photos with, say, the word "cat," or, pictures of cats, might sound like a fun idea at first, but perhaps we need to start thinking about long-term effects.

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