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A Tweet Has No Name - Twitter Removes Usernames Character Limit

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Twitter has recently commenced the testing phase of the final parts of their new rules about character limits. The changes, announced in May, will reduce the amount of entities that push your tweet towards that pesky character cap. The standout removal is @usernames, with these no longer counting, allowing users to pseudo-anonymously flame whole swathes of people whose opinions they mildly disagree with @ one fell swoop.

The development, which has taken on a hashtag following of #beyond140, is a welcome change amongst users. Rumors had the full changes appearing on September the 19th, but these turned out to be just the removal of media such as images, gifs, and videos from the character count. This testing phase marks the full implementation of the changes, and according to TechCrunch has begun to affect sections of live users, with a full scale release coming up in the near future.


The earlier May announcement laid out the character limit changes Twitter were planning:
  • Media attachments like gifs don't count. This came out on September 19th. 
  • @names don't count. The big part of this final update.
  • .@ no longer necessary - tweets that begin with a username now go to everyone, instead of requiring the .@ prefix. Users will now have to retweet replies if they want them to be seen by everyone.
  • You can retweet or quote yourself. I'm sure many Twitter users already find themselves infinitely quotable. Better retweet that low like post for the fifth time, no one saw it! No, it was just bad.



In testing it appears that @usernames not only don't count towards the limit but also don't appear at all. When users click reply, a separate subheading above the text box appears to indicate that this is a reply. You can click the subheading to see exactly who you're replying to, if you'd by any chance forgotten the target of your righteous ire. This also prevents the formation of the notorious Twitter Canoe - a pile-on where more and more retweets take up space until there's only a few characters left. The update should at least prevent you from being stuck up tweet creek without a paddle.

User reactions were generally positive to the changes last time, so we expect the same this time. Some users did manage to poke fun at them, though:


The changes are part of Twitter's ongoing struggles to revitalise the platform after shares have been tumbling following potential buyout collapses. Despite having 313m active monthly users in total, growth in them has been stagnant, and last year Twitter had to lay off 8% of its workforce. Twitter even shifted the release of their latest earnings to 4am PST rather than the usual 1pm, perhaps in a bid to sweep the dirt under the carpet.

There are some innovative ways around the Twitter character limit, but this move towards a slightly less restrictive means of communication without altering the overall tweet format will likely be welcome amongst users. It reflects a willingness by Twitter to adapt to user expectations, in terms of ease of media sharing and convenience of communication with others, that is something Twitter needs right now. Time will tell how drastic this change feels, and whether it will be a significant one. In any case, with Twitter's iconic @usernames almost disappearing, we're definitely @ the end of an era.



With a masters in Literature, Sam inhales books and anything readable, spending his working hours reformulating the info he gathers into digestible articles. When not reading or writing, he likes to put his camera to work around the world, snapping street photography from Stockholm to Tokyo. Too much of this time spent in Japan teaching English has nurtured a weakness for sashimi, Japanese whisky, and robot cafés. Follow him @SamF_Songbird


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A Tweet Has No Name - Twitter Removes Usernames Character Limit Reviewed by Sam Franklin on Friday, October 28, 2016 Rating: 5

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