The social-media app is trying to simultaneously make itself more friendly to new users and advertisers without losing its identity, a common fear among its users whenever it changes something. The rumor that Twitter was doing away with its iconic 140-character limit, dictated at the time by the length of a text message, is sort of true in the sense that a number of things that used to eat into your 140 characters no longer “count” toward that 140. You’ll still only have 140 characters to express yourself, though, and unfortunately, Twitter’s new rules are confusing in one very crucial respect.
Here are all the changes, what they mean to your subtweets, and how they’ll affect sharing your feelings about the NBA finals.
Replies Are No Longer Truncated
Currently, when you reply to somebody’s tweet, their handle takes up at least some of the 140 character limit. Twitter’s new rules pluck those out of the reply tweet. Instead it’ll be a little grey line of metadata underneath or above your username, depending on which design they go with. Hopefully Twitter still offers the ability to quickly edit who you reply to, which is a virtue if you only want to tweet at one person on a chain, but it’s not clear just yet if that’s the case.
Some Links Still Count Towards Your 140 Characters
Despite the endless rumors, and also despite it being a good idea, sharing links in a tweet will still count toward your 140 characters. Presumably Twitter is doing this to limit spam attacks, but of all the rumored features, this was almost certainly the one people wanted most. Twitter apparently believes making links count toward the 140 limit will make using the site more intuitive, although just how that works is an open question.
Media Links, However, Don’t
Weirdly, though, if you post a link to a picture or a GIF, that won’t count towards your 140 character limit. This is already true if you go through Twitter’s GIF keyboard or use its attachment buttons, and streamlining this will be a useful feature if you can’t use those buttons or want to share something without having to download it first. It also appears to strip that link out of your tweet if you paste it there, and just inserts the image under your tweet instead.
Everybody Can Now See Your Replies
Currently, Twitter will hide replies from your main feed so you don’t have to scroll past a lengthy tweet war about Final Fantasy or long arguments over Trump to get to tweets you care about. With the new changes, everything you tweet, replies and all, will be in your timeline. This will also do away with workarounds like putting a period before a username so everybody sees your tweet. One hopes Twitter pairs this with a robust filter to remove certain topics or an opt-out feature that hides replies.
You Can Now Retweet And Quote Yourself
Twitter currently limits your ability to reshare a Tweet. Once the changes take effect, you’ll be able to scroll down in your timeline, find a tweet, and boost it up to the top of your feed just by retweeting it. This was originally ruled out to prevent spam on your timeline; how Twitter plans to deal with this problem when it inevitably arrives isn’t currently clear.
When Is This All Happening?
As usual with social-media platforms, Twitter is vague about when the changes will take place. The company announced the transition now to give the thousands of websites and software products built on Twitter time to prepare for the launch, but you may not notice the difference until Twitter rolls the features out for everyone at the same times, Facebook style. The only thing we can tell you is to expect them before the end of 2016.