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New rules coming soon: Twitter changes its 140-character tweet limit

In 2006, when Twitter’s API first introduced, Tweets were simple 140-character text messages, often sent via SMS. Now, the products and apps built using Twitter data feature Tweets that include photos, GIFs, videos, polls, and more.

Coming soon: Members will be able to add multimedia to tweets – including pictures and videos – without eating into the 140-characters-a-post limit.

Definitely Facebook, Instagram and others have sucked some of the engagement from Twitter. This might explain why Twitter announce an upcoming set of changes rolling out over the coming months to enable people to express even more within 140 characters.

Pictures, video or any other attachment no longer count toward your 140-character limit, either. It only applies to media you upload directly to Twitter; links to your Instagram breakfast still count.


These changes will allow for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter, and ensure people can attach extra elements, media, and content to Tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to share their view.

The move comes as Twitter’s efforts to increase its user base and engagement have been sputtering, raising questions about its growth trend.

According to Twitter, you can already do a lot in a Tweet, but Twitter want you to be able to do even more. In the coming months Twitter  will 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.

This is how developers are being advised to display tweets
This is how developers are being advised to display tweets


Here’s how Twitter is making changes to its 140-character limit:

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 like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!

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 help simplify the rules around Tweets that start 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.

Last month, Twitter released a quarterly update that showed little change in its user base. In a key metric in the fast-evolving social media world, Twitter’s trend was flat.

Twitter active users- image via BBC
Twitter Active Users- image via BBC

The number of monthly active users was 310 million, up three percent from a year ago and only slightly higher than the 305 million in the previous quarter.

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