Twitter Gives Users More Bang for Their 140 Characters

Among the changes to the Twitterstream, "@names" in replies and media attachments won't count in the 140-character limit, nor will GIFs, photos and other images.

It's official: There's now a lot more one can do with a Twitter session than simply type in 140 characters and send it out for your followers to read.

Last May, the San Francisco-based social network announced that improvements were in the works. As of Sept. 19, the improvements have been deployed in the social network.

During the past decade, the common tweet has evolved from a simple, 140-character text message to what Twitter calls a "rich canvas for creative expression" that can include photos, videos, hashtags, Vine GIFs and streaming video. In fact, on Sept. 15, the first full-length football game was streamed via Twitter to televisions, laptops and smartphones around the world.

Over the past few months, Twitter has added the ability to poll a community, react quickly with GIFs and share Periscope broadcasts in tweets.

Twitter's latest changes simplify tweets, including what counts toward the entire 140 characters. For example, "@names" in replies and media attachments (such as photos, GIFs, videos and polls) will no longer use up valuable characters.

This update has been anticipated by many Twitter users since May. On the company blog, the Twitter staff shared the full details of what's changed.

Here's a rundown on what's new:

Replies: When replying to a tweet, "@names" no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward; no more penny-pinching words to ensure they reach the whole group.

Media attachments: Attachments such as photos, GIFs, videos, polls or Quote Tweets also no longer will count as characters within your tweet.

Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: Twitter enables the Retweet button on users' own tweets, so they can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet themselves when they want to share a new reflection or feel like a good one went unnoticed.

Goodbye, "[email protected]": This 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 users will no longer have to type in the "[email protected]" 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.

These changes went into effect Sept. 19.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...