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Twitter’s character limit increased. Slightly.

Mark Tomkins - Creative Director at Aubergine
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We reported back in March that rumours drifting around the internet that Twitter was in crisis (article: What if Twitter died?). Not financially as such but rather, more about who it was and what it was about.

Facebook had changed its timeline for users – altering the algorithm to make posts from people you interact with more prominent in the feed – thereby encouraging users to interact with everyone they are connected, rather than just a handful of those that are in the user’s friends list. There was also a design change to the layout, too.

Twitter was probably feeling a bit lost so it announced that there was also going to be an algorithm change to improve the experience but the biggest and most sensational change was that Twitter was going to increase the amount of characters you could use in a tweet.

Rumours abound. Some reports said that (under corporate pressure from advertisers wanting to get greater visibility as they do with Facebook) it would increase the character limit to 10,000. Yes, 10,000. Thereby potentially hogging someone’s entire Twitter feed with one tweet. Other rumours suggested that tweets would be displayed according to an algorithm rather than a chronological listing of the tweets from those who you follow.

Finally, Twitter announced on 19th September in its own tweet that the change would be simply this:

Images, other people’s tweets you’re quoting or retweeting, URLs and links, GIFs, video and other media content would no longer count towards the 144 character limit.

Admittedly, it was a little frustrating that if you wanted to tweet a picture that had a link, you didn’t really know how many characters that would chomp up and leave you to provide your message. Not any more.

In a move to encourage more rich media, Twitter will not count these aspects of a tweet towards the 144 character count and thereby giving users the ability to post more image and video-based content without fear of not being about to comment on it and give it conversational context.

We think this is actually a good move. The only downside we can see is that this will take up a bit more of your Twitter feed on your phone or device. We also think that people will use it more now.

However, we also think that this is going to change Twitter and its raison d’etre as users may decide to be lazy and just tweet a picture or video instead of having to think about how to get a message across in a short, punchy piece of text.

Like it or not, Twitter and Facebook’s functionality appear to be moving ever-closer, but at a glacial pace.