After a few months of speculation, Twitter has officially announced its plans to extend the length of tweets by no longer counting mentions and media attachments towards the 140 character limit as well as some new announcements including the ability to retweet yourself and the removal of the ‘.@’ convention to simplify the service. Twitter will roll all of these updates in the coming months.
The headline change is that Twitter handles (@mention), embedded photos, videos and other media attachments will no longer count towards the 140 character limit. This will allow users to fit more content into every tweet as metadata will not use up valuable characters.
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Twitter does not address potential abuse of the new counting system in this blog post, although concrete details are likely to follower later when the policy is fully fleshed out. For example, it seems like spammers could @mention people in one tweet infinitely as there is no prescribed limit. The 140 character limit will no longer apply to photos, GIFs, videos, polls or quoted tweets either leaving more room for words.
Twitter will also be enhancing the retweet system by enabling users to retweet their own tweets for the first time. The blog post says that it will allow users to draw renewed attention to certain tweets if “a really good one went unnoticed”. This also ties into the removal of the “.@” convention. Today, all tweets that start with an @mention are only visible by followers of either the sender or recipient.
Soon, Twitter will make all “new tweets” starting with a mention visible to all followers. Tweets that are part of a conversation (replies) will continue to use the old visibility behaviour. Users will be able to retweet themselves in order to show the tweet to all of their followers. This removes the need to employ the .@ syntax to expand visibility of tweets, which was unusual to new users and non-obvious. Replies will only be shown to all followers if they are explicitly self-retweeted by the individual.
The changes will be rolling out in the coming months to the apps and Twitter website. The company says it is announcing early to let developers catch up with the changes and make sure the third-party app ecosystem can make any necessary updates. More details can be found on the Twitter blog.