Although not officially confirmed by Twitter, sources close to the social media giant have recently announced that, in just a matter of weeks, it is likely to stop counting links and photos as part of its 140 character limit.
The Low Down
As a Twitter user, you’ll be well aware that if you post photos or links within your tweet, these are included in the platform’s well-known 140 character limit. With links using up 23 characters, and photos gobbling up a further 24, this leaves users with just 93 characters to carefully craft their accompanying text.
Why are the Changes Occurring?
Although this shake-up is regarded as one of Twitter’s biggest changes in recent years, the news isn’t actually all that surprising. Twitter bosses have been talking for some time about making changes, and with user engagement struggling, it seems that something had to give in order to keep people tweeting.
The imposed character limit is actually based on a fairly archaic concept, anyway, as it was originally devised to sit well with SMS text messaging. With less reliance on SMS texting, Twitter, in theory, doesn’t need to keep to its strict character limitations. Twitter chiefs have even considered the idea of raising the character limit from 140 to 10,000, although some argue that this would devalue Twitter’s identity, and make it less distinguishable from other platforms, such as Facebook.
Instead, it seems that Twitter is going for the less radical approach of keeping to the original character limits, but letting users post links and photos without them eating into their allowance. With Twitter making video and media content a priority in recent times, this new strategy would help to push this move forward.
The impending changes seem to be getting a resounding thumbs-up from the tweeting fraternity. People certainly haven’t been shy to express their thoughts:
Twitter: We want to give you 10k characters.
Twitter: We want to give you 23 more characters.
Everyone: YES HAVE MY BABY!
— Mark Ellinwood (@markellinwood) May 16, 2016
Twitter Won't Count Photos and Links as Characters Anymore, that's just awesome pic.twitter.com/quokYOA581
— Daniel Shamu (@danielshamu) May 17, 2016
Users have long reviled the inflexibility of the character limitations. More users are now posting links and photos to back up their tweets, but with less text to play around with, this can prove a cumbersome experience – restricting what you’ve got to say. Removing links and photos from the character count will make Twitter more approachable.
By having more flexibility to say what you want to say without having to waste time on editing, it should, hopefully, tempt disengaged users back to the site. It will also enable users to add more media to their posts, securing Twitter as the main destination for live events and topics of conversation.
Although welcome news, some people argue that this change may not be significant enough to recharge Twitter’s profile in the long term, yet making more radical changes to character limits may be damaging to the brand. They believe that more may still need to be done, however, to boost user engagement in the future. Certainly, for the time being, it looks like Twitter has taken a step in the right direction to satisfy its 310 million users.