Twitter Removes And Exempts ‘@’ Replies From 140-Character Limit: Here’s How It Works


Twitter, no doubt, has been busy beefing up its services of late. Just last year, it announced that the site would gradually shun the age-old 140-character limit for tweets, an aspect the microblogging service became popular for. It did so by exempting media attachments to the overall character count, but the "@" method of replies is still counted, which is a bummer.

That, however, changes now. Twitter will officially halt counting @ replies to the overall character count, with the update poised to roll out to all its platforms — the web, iOS, and Android.

Twitter Is Making Replies Better

"It's now easier to follow a conversation, so you can focus on what a discussion is about, and who is having it. Also, with all 140 characters for your replies, you have more room to participate in group conversations," announces Twitter in a blog post.

It's worth noting that Twitter originally started as something akin to a public text messaging service, hence the 140-character limit. The short, succinct nature of tweets was praised then — they were convenient, rapid, and straightforward, as opposed to chore of skimming through huge block of texts just to get the gist of particular areas of discussions. The problem was, other elements that cluttered a tweet, such as GIFs, links, and other various media, counted to the total word count, leaving very little room for thoughtful input.

The limitations spawned different user-initiated methods, such as "tweetstorms" — or when someone has a lot to say in which they parse it all down with a series of truncated tweets. There's also the comedic "twitter canoes," where the number of surnames one has to mention leaves little to no room at all for including user-composed thoughts.

Exempting Mentions From Total Character Count

To patch this woe, Twitter, as previously mentioned, began exempting various elements from the total word count, although links do still count, even today. With the changes to replies now being applied, Twitter's going to look a bit different. First off, the username being mentioned will now perch atop a tweet, instead of within, which will free up space.

Second, there will now be a handy "Replying to" field, which lets users see all the participants in one conversation and make changes as necessary, such as excluding a particular users from a thread. This can be done by tapping specific names in the small pop-up that appears onscreen after tapping the field.

However, there are a few kinks. On the tweet Compose screen, for instance, the "Replying to" field is tiny, which runs the risk of being overlooked if users are scrambling to tweet quickly. This can lead to users erroneously posting what they think is an individual tweet but is actually a conversation.

All told, third-party developers are presumably expecting this sort of update, as they have been communicated with by Twitter back in May, as TechCrunch notes. But it still remains to be seen which developers will be the first to adapt to Twitter's new changes to replies. On another note, it's worth mentioning that changing the replies or making them less prominent marks sort of the end of a convention popularized by Twitter. Since its introduction, mentioning usernames with @ has been a method used on nearly every major platform nowadays, such as Facebook, Slack, Messenger, and others.

How do you feel about Twitter's new improvements to replies? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!

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