Twitter on Thursday announced changes to character limits for reply tweets, the latest step in the struggling company's ongoing journey to whittle away the strict 140-character limit on which it originally made its name in the social media world.
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Now, when you reply to someone's tweet, their username (such as @realDonaldTrump) won't count against your 140-character limit. The change is in keeping with Twitter's other recent relaxations of the limit, which have centered around the theme of not penalizing users for things they can't control: after all, if a tweet moves you to respond, shouldn't your reply be independent of the length of the person's username?
With Thursday's change, Twitter is also revamping how it displays reply tweets on its mobile and web platforms. The username of the person to whom you're replying will display above the text of the tweet you're composing, to remind you that it's not part of the character limit. That should make tweets with a long reply thread much easier to read. Users will "actually see what people are saying, rather than seeing lots of @usernames at the start of a Tweet," Twitter explained in a blog post.
The impetus for the change was—predictably—beta testing that suggests it will drive user engagement, something Twitter is focused on improving as it seeks new ways to generate revenue following lackluster interest from potential acquirers last year.
"The updates we're making today are based on feedback from all of you as well as research and experimentation," the company wrote. "In our tests of this new experience, we found that people engage more with conversations on Twitter."
Twitter previously relaxed the 140-character limit by exempting video and photo attachments.