Washington: Twitter announced Monday that media extras such as photos, GIFs, and videos along with quoted tweets and user polls will no longer “use up” the 140-character limit per tweet.
Excluded from the update was the removal of counting usernames in a reply or mention toward the 140-character limit, which was announced in a blog entry on the relaxation of character limits in May. A Twitter spokeswoman said the company is currently testing this feature and will be introducing it to a small group of users in the coming weeks before rolling it out to everyone. She did not confirm a specific date for the update.
In its May blog entry, Twitter said the new features would help users “do even more” with their tweets. “We’re exploring ways to make existing uses easier and enable new ones, all without compromising the unique brevity and speed that make Twitter the best place for live commentary, connections, and conversations,” the blog post states.
One update outlined is removing the space-taking usernames in replies and mentions. In a demonstration video for how the replies function will soon look, “@username” is replaced with a thread line that shows different tweets in a conversation. The names of users involved in the conversation are displayed above the tweet after the text “replying to.”
Another feature in the May blog post missing from Monday’s rollout was the update that would make all replies appear on a user’s feed, making it unnecessary to use “.@” when trying to display replies to a user’s audience. Twitter did not confirm if this feature is being tested or when users can expect it in the future.
The product change comes during a rocky period for a company that has seen declining revenue growth and stock value in recent years. Twitter reported that this last quarter saw the slowest revenue growth for the company since it went public in 2013. The platform has struggled to expand its user base and drive up engagement beyond its core group of devoted users, which in turn affects advertising interest. Twitter chief executive and co-founder Jack Dorsey has cited streamlining the site’s user experience, such as excluding mentions and links in a tweet’s character limit, as one part in the effort to attract new users.
Rita Gunther McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School who focuses on business strategy, says the relaxation of character limits could be a way to encourage users to post more images and videos, which some research has shown capture more users for longer. “They want their content to be more engaging,” she said. “If you can’t keep people on the site and sharing to the site, where are advertisers’ dollars going?”
Twitter’s stock dropped on the New York Stock Exchange by 3.92 percent as of 4:31pm.