Twitter will relax its 140-character limit

The big news in today’s announcement from Twitter: media attachments (images, video, links, polls) will no longer “count” against the 140-character limit that is the platform’s defining characteristic.

When will it happen?

Sometime “over the coming months.”

Other changes:

  • The user-name(s) that leads a “reply” (an @ tweet that is a REPLY not a brand-new tweet) will not count. Other (added, not auto-populated – I think) user names in the tweet will count against the total 140-character limit. For a brand new tweet that starts with an @ handle … it sounds like the user name will count towards the character limit. You will read news articles that get this wrong. Blame the initial blog post/announcement. Blame the complexity.
  • You can retweet your own tweets. (There will be a button to RT or Quote Tweet.)

There is conflicting/confusing information about the visibility of an @ reply.

Currently, the only people will see an @ reply in their timelines are those who follow both you and the person you’re talking to. If you want to lead a tweet with someone’s username, but have the tweet show up in everyone’s timeline who is following you, just put a “.” in front of the name, like so: .@kegill.

This is the Twitter news release/blog post statement, broken into two paragraphs and with emphasis added.

Goodbye, .@:
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.

However, in conversation, Twitter is nullifying that first sentence, thusly:

I’m interpreting Twitter’s response to mean only this:

If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you should Retweet it.

What’s not clear is this:

Is Twitter going to nullify the .@ reply as a tool to share a tweet broadly?

I asked … still waiting for an answer.


Twitter continues to confirm that the behavior of @ replies is not changing. But no response to my question about the “.” before the @.



Written by Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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