Twitter Update Allows Users to Do More With 140 Characters

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Twitter is staying committed to its 140-character limit, but in an effort to free up coveted real estate the micro-blogging network announced on May 24 that it will stop counting media attachments and other content toward its iconic character limit.

Many of the changes will allow users to have more control over their messages by doing away with Twitter's current practice of factoring usernames and media attachments into the total character count. By discontinuing these features, Twitter users will have to be less wary of adding media to their posts, surely a welcome reprieve for today’s multimedia hungry producers.

But the company is also looking to simplify its notoriously confusing conversational features. Specifically the “.@” convention that allowed reply tweets to be viewed by all an account's followers, not just those who follow both parties involved in the conversation. In the new system, to make a reply tweet public, users would use the retweet function instead.

Here’s the rundown of Twitter’s upcoming changes courtesy of the company’s blog:

  • Replies: When replying to a tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.
  • Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or quote tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your tweet. More room for words!
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: Twitter will be enabling the retweet button on your tweets, so you can easily tweet or quote tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
  • Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around tweets that start with a username. New tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ".@" convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

Prior to the announcement there were reports that suggested URLs would get the same treatment as media attachments with this update. Twitter unfortunately left this feature out of the upcoming rollouts. Though webpage links will continue to count, there’s still hope that this may not be a feature for long.

“In addition to the changes outlined above, we have plans to help you get even more from your tweets,” said Todd Sherman, senior product manager with Twitter, in the company’s blog post.

There’s no specific launch date for these features, but users should expect to see them “in the coming months.”

Follow Mark: @MarkRenfree