Social Media

Twitter Goes Beyond 140 Characters, But It’s Not All Good News

Mihir Patkar 27-05-2016

From the time it was first conceived, Twitter has limited messages to 140 characters. That included anything you type, from other user’s handles to the # of a hashtag. But all that is about to change soon.


Twitter has officially announced that it will rethink what it counts in those 140 characters. “In the coming months we’ll make changes to simplify Tweets including what counts toward your 140 characters, so for instance, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) will no longer ‘use up’ valuable characters,” the company said.

The updates will roll out to all users over the next few months, but if you know what they’re all about, you won’t want to wait!

Let’s Start With the Good News

If you’ve been trying to go beyond 140 characters Think Twitter is Just 140 Characters? Think Again Twitter doesn't just have to be about simple old tweets. There is a whole lot more you can do if you have the right apps. Read More , the first few changes will bring a smile to your face. Finally, usernames, quotes, and media attachments don’t count in the character limit!

Change 1: Right now, when you attach a video to your tweet Twitter Video and Group Messages: Everything You Need to Know Twitter, the world's favourite micro-blogging social network, has launched two new highly anticipated features. You can now finally record and share videos directly on Twitter, and you can also start private group chats. Read More (or any other multimedia like images, GIFs, or Twitter polls Twitter Polls: Everything You Need to Know Can't decide whether to order Chinese or pizza tonight? Ask! Twitter has finally launched a built-in option to conduct public polls. It's completely free and works on both mobile and desktop. Read More ), it generates a link that counts towards the limit. In the new rules, these attachments won’t take up any of your precious 140 characters.


Change 2: Where you’ll feel the effect most is with replies. For example, take this conversation between me and my colleagues, Harry, Matthew, and Justin. I had to write, edit, and re-edit what I wanted to say to fit in everyone’s “@” handles, so that they are notified I’m talking to them.

But in the new system, because I’m replying to Harry who started the conversation, those @names won’t be counted in the 140-character limit.

Change 3: A short while ago, Twitter introduced Quote Tweets Retweet With Comments: All You Need To Know About Quote Tweets You may have noticed a new feature on Twitter these past few days: You can now retweet with comments! Here's all you need to know about the new tool. Read More . In a nutshell, this lets you retweet someone’s update and add your own commentary to it. But again, the quoted tweet is turned into a link, much like the attachments above, which counts in your limit. And yes, you guessed it, the new rules will stop counting that.

The Feature You Should Be Excited About

In the near future, you will be able to retweet your own tweets—something which you can’t do at the moment. So while you can track your most-retweeted tweet MyTopTweet: Find Your Most Retweeted Tweet Read More , you can’t share it again without typing it all over.



It’s a welcome change, since your current options seem a little bit like you’re spamming your timeline. For example, sometimes you have an important tweet that you want to keep reminding others about, possibly to keep all the information and replies localized in one tweet. In such a scenario, it’ll be better to retweet yourself than have multiple tweets.

And then there’s the trick of replying to yourself and removing your handle 10 Twitter Tips Most Pros Don't Even Know Learn how to master Twitter with these lesser-known but super useful Twitter tips and tricks. Read More , so that the tweets appear are a series. Instead, you could just quote yourself to make your point.

No matter how you look at it, this one move will change Twitter for the better. You’ll be able to write tweets that get more retweets How to Write Tweets That Your Followers Will Want To Retweet If you do it right, you could go viral on Twitter. Twitter is one of the fastest ways you could go viral today. The key? Write compelling tweets that others will want to share. Read More , and figure out how to keep information on Twitter centralized instead of in a chain of scattered messages.


The One Bad Update


While most of the announced changes make sense, there’s one that doesn’t. Twitter is getting rid of the “.@” trick. Here’s what they have to say about it:

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.

For those who don’t know, the “.@” is one of the basic tricks of using Twitter How To Use Twitter Without Screwing Up Twitter can be a touch cryptic, and it's easy to make mistakes from time to time – even if you're a longtime user. Here are a few common mistakes, and how to avoid them. Read More . Right now, when you start a tweet with a username, it shows only on that user’s timeline. But when you add a dot before the “@”, it shows on all your followers’ timelines. Here’s a quick example:


In my opinion, removing the “.@” trick is a big mistake. Under the new guidelines, if Harry wants to start a conversation with Matt, I have to see that. You’d be surprised how many people on your Following list follow each other. Soon, this could mean your timeline being populated with a whole bunch of irrelevant tweets you would otherwise have missed.

Yes, it saves characters for you (remember, usernames won’t count), but if that comes at the cost of making the timeline more confusing and irrelevant, it’s not worth it. Instead, just educating users about Twitter pro tips 10 Twitter Tips Most Pros Don't Even Know Learn how to master Twitter with these lesser-known but super useful Twitter tips and tricks. Read More would be a better approach.

Are You Excited About the New Twitter?

So no, none of these new changes let you write tweets longer than 140 characters 5 Tools To Escape The 140 Character Limit Anywhere Read More , but that’s a good thing. There are enough tools to write longer posts, even Twitter-based ones Medium. Instead, with the new changes, Twitter is recognizing it is at its best when it retains brevity. The difference now is that you can still be brief without non-essential words and items limiting what you want to say.

What do you think about the upcoming Twitter changes? Do you agree that getting rid of the “.@” is a bad move?

Image Credit: Blue bird by Julien Tromeur via Shutterstock

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  1. blm
    May 29, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I agree with everything in the article. Dropping @username and links from the character count makes sense, but making @username go to all my followers doesn't, at all.

  2. Sandy
    May 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the great overview of the coming Twitter changes!

    Right now I see getting rid of the ".@" as a good thing. I see people all the time giving compliments or shoutouts to others by starting their Tweet with @Username, thinking it's going to be seen by all of their followers. Also from my experience leading professional development on Twitter, I can tell you the concept of who can see a Tweet when it starts with @Username is confusing to newbies and casual users.

    I hadn't thought about my timeline being more littered with "conversations" though. We'll see if that becomes annoying in the long run.

  3. Leah
    May 28, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I agree with you on the bad one. When I don't want certain tweets to show up all on my followers' timelines I don't use the . when I start with an @. Now my followers will see a ton of @ tweets that are unnecessary and may be worth muting or unfollowing.