Since Twitter began, social media managers have worked tirelessly to condense their messages.
Over the years, the platform’s infamously short 140-character limit has been a burden for many, especially when including long user names or links in tweets. Relief was sighted in the offing when Bloomberg reported last week that Twitter would probably stop including links and photos in the character count of tweets.
Today, Twitter’s senior product manager, Todd Sherman, confirmed that reported character exclusions are in development—as well as a few additions.
Along with photos, GIFS, polls and links, the platform will no longer include users’ handles in character counts for both tweets and replies.
This means that replies will look a little different once the changes roll out, as user handles will no longer appear ahead of replies. Instead, Twitter will surface contextual details about the conversation outside of the tweet itself. The company hasn’t said exactly how these changes will look, but its developer guidelines—published Tuesday—offer some hints.
Here’s how Sherman says things will change:
- 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 [such as] photos, GIFs, videos, polls or “quote tweets,” [they] will no longer count as characters.
- Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the “Retweet” button on your own tweets, so you can easily retweet 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 simplify the rules around tweets—[starting] 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.
Sherman said Twitter’s developers were notified of the changes only this morning. The updates will “be available over the coming months.” ATTEND FROM YOUR DESK: Learn social media “next practices” from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
As soon as Twitter’s chief exec, Jack Dorsey tweeted about the company’s plans, many users cheered:
A few simple changes to make conversations on Twitter easier! And no more removing characters for images or videos! https://t.co/7XjGN8k0p6
— Jack (@jack) May 24, 2016
So, Twitter says that photos and links don’t count towards 140… pic.twitter.com/cM6vbDWsT0
— Josh Kohnert (@JoshKohnert) May 16, 2016
It wasn’t all celebrations for Twitter users, though. The policy announcement brought forth a large group of dissidents. The possibility of having your notifications brimming with floods of 50 @-mention tweets filled some with dread.
Many wrote that this would invite spamming and abuse:
Name a single positive/non-spam use case for @-ing 50 people. https://t.co/9MKyal9w1v
— Anthony Carboni (@acarboni) May 24, 2016
One user seemed ready to run screaming for the exit:
Oh god. Oh my god. Oh no. No no no. Please no. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god pic.twitter.com/qF6yaNHwn7
— Chris Remo (@chrisremo) May 24, 2016
How do you feel about Twitter’s update on character limits, PR Daily readers? Are you a friend or foe?
Russell Working contributed to this story.