140 Characters No More – Twitter Changes

rainbow fishAmong a virtual sea of social platforms, Twitter was a rainbow fish. When it originally launched (incredibly, 10 years ago), it was a boldly unique platform with stringent – if esoteric – rules.

Hashtags, first used by Twitter, have been embraced and adopted by most other platforms. Cryptic text-like messaging is the natural communication style for a generation of under 30’s. And an @reply is now akin to a tap on the shoulder. Twitter played a significant role ushering in this era of social communication.

Why the about-face?

So as a leader in this new social age, why is Twitter changing one of its basic tenets and abandoning the 140 character limit?

Simply, there are other fish in the sea, and some of them are quite sparkly as well. While data varies, it seems that Twitter’s active user base has stalled at some 320 million (according to statistics Business Insider). Perhaps the thought is that loosening up the limitations on characters will kick-start some of the inactive users who may be favoring other platforms. Twitter isn’t walking away entirely from the 140 character limit; in most cases it still applies.

What’s changed?

Twitter character counts

Twitter’s new enhancements loosen the 140 character rule in certain cases, including @replies

Image files: In an acknowledgement of the evolution of social media to heavily image-based content, character counts associated with photos, graphic files and videos will no longer count toward Twitter’s 140 character limit.

@replies: Users will be able to reply and tag other users more freely using the @functionality, since characters associated with Twitter names at the beginning of a tweet will not be included in the 140 character limit. Twitter’s positioning of this change is that the 140 characters are for conversations, not user names.

Polls: The polling feature introduced on Twitter last fall enables users to solicit quick feedback from their audience. Even though polls allow 116 characters for a query in addition to four response choices of 20 characters each, phrasing a question can still prove quite challenging. While details are a bit lacking, character counts around polls will be less stringent with the new enhancements. Stay tuned.

A few other enhancements are being introduced with the relaxed character limits. Tweets beginning with a Twitter name, previously visible only to mutual followers of both users, will now be visible to all followers of the tweet author. And the quote re-tweet feature will now be available to users who wish to share their own previously tweeted content.

News of the enhancements was announced in mid-2016 to developers; the changes are being rolled out gradually to users.

If the latest changes inspire you to give the Twitter rainbow fish a try, learn more from these articles:

Time To Board The Twitter Train

Easy Peasy! Click-To-Tweet: A How-To Post

Marketing Intelligence: How To Use Twitter Notifications





  1. Gail Kauranen Jones

    Thanks, Nancy and the folks at Online Amplify for keeping us up-to-date on these latest changes with Twitter. You are THE BEST at explaining social media. I still refer to my notes taken at your live workshops when I lived in Boston. Gail

    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thank you so much for your kind comment Gail! I’m so glad you find our posts helpful.


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