08 June, 2016
The social media website Twitter has announced major updates to its service.
Some changes will make it easier to add words and images to a tweet. Other changes will affect how tweets can be sent and who will see them.
Change in How Characters Are Counted
Twitter permits only 140 characters in a tweet, including letters, numbers, web addresses, images, spaces, and #hashtags. The limit on characters can make it difficult to say something meaningful.
The company is changing the way that characters are counted.
Twitter will no longer count the following as characters in tweets:
- Web addresses
- Quote Tweets
- Twitter IDs in Replies
So when these are used in a tweet, they will not be counted against the 140-character limit. This is great news for those who want to have more space to share their thoughts on Twitter.
Web addresses, also known as URLs, will no longer be included in the character count. This change is very important, and not just because it gives users more words per tweet.
Web addresses can take up a lot of characters so some websites use a shortened web address in tweets.
For example, two web addresses can open the Voice of America Learning English article "Travel Apps Offer Direction, Fun."
One is a full web address: http://www.51voa.com/VOA_Special_English/travel-apps-69881.html
The other is a shortened link: http://t.cn/R5fQgl7
But not all shortened web addresses lead you to safe websites. Shortened web addresses can cause big problems because you cannot see the full web address of the website you are opening.
You may think you are clicking on a link to take you to a trusted website, but you may get a surprise, instead. The shortened link can hide the actual website that will open.
Clicking on a shortened link could open a site with malware. Your computer could become infected with a damaging program.
So, Twitter will now permit users to include the full web address without affecting the character count. As a result, there will be no need to use a shortened link.
Polls, GIFs, Photos and Quote Tweets
Have you have ever written the perfect tweet, then added a photo and gone beyond the 140-character limit? That is frustrating.
Now when you write a tweet you can use all 140 characters, and an image. The image will not affect the character count.
The same is true of Twitter polls. They will no longer count as characters.
Similarly, users can quote a tweet and not have the quoted tweet count against the character limit. Click on the Quote Tweet button and the quoted tweet will be included in a tweet, but those characters will not count towards the limit.
Twitter IDs in Replies
Twitter has also removed IDs in replies from the character count. Let's say a conversation starts on Twitter. You reply to a tweet that is itself a reply to someone else. And then someone else replies to that tweet.
The reply tweets could be filled with @name1 @name2 @name3, as the conversation continues. Suddenly, you have few characters left to share your thoughts. Twitter IDs in replies will no longer count against the limit.
Note that a Twitter ID will still count against the 140-character limit in tweets that are not replies.
Other Changes to Twitter
Twitter announced more changes that will affect the way users tweet.
Retweet and Quote Tweet Yourself
Twitter no longer bars users from retweeting their own tweets. You can retweet yourself and quote your own tweets as often as you like, whenever you like.
No More Targeted Tweets
But what Tweeters cannot do anymore is target a tweet to a person with their Twitter ID. In the past, tweets that started with @name were only seen by that person, and accounts that follow both the sender and the person who was mentioned.
Many people got around that restriction by starting a tweet with a period before the Twitter name. So a tweet would begin with .@name instead of @name so more people would see the tweet.
Twitter's update means tweets that begin with @name will go to all of your followers, not just the followers you have in common with @name.
Twitter is making these changes slowly over the coming months. If you add a photo to a tweet and it uses up characters, then the changes for your account are not effective yet.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Carolyn Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Are you excited about these changes to Twitter? Have you ever been frustrated at images and web addresses taking up characters in your tweets? Which changes do you like best?
Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below and on 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
character - n. a symbol (such as a letter or number) that is used in writing or printing
#hashtag - n. (on social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic
web address - n. an internet address of a website, file, or document in the general format http://www.address/directories/filename
GIF - n. a graphic image on a Web page that moves
poll - n. an activity in which several or many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to get information about what most people think about something
quote - n. to repeat (something written or said by another person) exactly
reply - n. to say, write, or do something as an answer or response
malware - n. software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems
frustrating - adj. causing feelings of anger and annoyance