Twitter will now stop replies hogging your 140-character limit

31 Mar 2017

Twitter on an iPhone. Image: MSPT/Shutterstock

Those of you frustrated at having to use valuable character space on Twitter with replies can rest easy, thanks to the social media site’s latest change.

Twitter has become defined by its 140-character limit. However, in a bid to modernise and keep up with some new competitors on the scene, it is trying to make tweeting less like entering code and more like a natural messaging service.

Last year, its first step was to prevent media such as images and videos from taking up any space in the character limit, but now it is extending this to @ replies as well.

According to Twitter’s blog, when a user replies to someone or a group, those @ usernames won’t count towards their 140 characters.

Instead, the usernames will appear above the text rather than within the tweet itself, thereby eliminating the rather ugly-looking occurrence of a text chain reply full of names.

Twitter said that this change will allow users to “focus on what a discussion is about, and who is having it”.

“The updates we’re making today are based on feedback from all of you as well as research and experimentation,” the company said.

“In our tests of this new experience, we found that people engage more with conversations on Twitter.”

Jack Dorsey in town

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently touched down in Dublin to talk about the company’s current and future plans, following years of financial uncertainty and questions over whether it is looking for a buyer.

“I think Twitter is a company that will endure forever,” he said. “It will last because it is fundamental. We make the time and take the time necessary for the people using the product and also our advertisers, and the revenue follows.”

He also discussed the potential for Twitter to add an edit button, to allow users to change a tweet that either got them in a lot of hot water, or didn’t accurately reflect what they were trying to get across.

Dorsey, however, made it seem unlikely that this feature was going to come anytime soon, if at all.

“With edit, the biggest seed of it is people want to be able to correct spelling mistakes, so they kind of want a small window to correct those mistakes. But even with that, there is another person who says, ‘No, just tweet again that you made a mistake’.

“Everyone has a different opinion on it, and we are just weighing everything and understanding what matters most.”

Twitter on an iPhone. Image: MSPT/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic