One of my longstanding bugbears about Twitter is that usernames count toward the social media site’s signature 140-character limit. But I guess I should be saying that in the past tense, since Twitter has just introduced a change that exempts usernames from being included in the 140 characters allowed in tweet replies. Yes, this change is initially applied to tweet replies only, but it’s still a welcome improvement that effectively gives users of Twitter more room to say what they want to say. What’s more, in implementing this change, Twitter has revamped the way tweet replies work to simplify conversations on the service.
So now when you respond to someone or a group on Twitter, @usernames will no longer count toward the 140-character count in your tweet reply.
To reiterate: @usernames don’t count toward the character limit only in tweet replies, i.e., tweets that are initiated by clicking or tapping the reply button. They still count toward the limit in non-replies, where they are included in the form of @mentions.
In line with this relaxation of the 140-character limit, several adjustments, mostly simplifications, have been applied to the tweet reply UI.
More room to say things
When you reply to a Tweet, @usernames will not be automatically added to the beginning of the tweet text. Whom you’re replying to appears above the tweet text rather than within the tweet text itself, giving you all 140 characters to use.
You can tap or click “Replying to…” above the tweet text to see the full list of the usernames of people participating in the conversation. To control who’s part of the conversation, you can remove participants (except for the one who posted the tweet you are directly replying to) by clicking or tapping the checkmark icon next to them, or add new participants by closing the list and then typing their @usernames in your tweet reply — bear in mind, though, that manually typed @usernames or @mentions count toward the character limit.
More room to breathe in conversations
It’s now also easier to follow conversations on Twitter. When reading a conversation, you can see right away what’s being said and who’s saying which, rather than seeing a bunch of @usernames at the beginning of each tweet reply.
You can also view the participants of a conversation by clicking or tapping “Replying to…” above a tweet, be it in your Home timeline, a profile page, your notifications, or a tweet detail.
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This change comes almost a year after Twitter announced its plans of becoming less strict with its 140-character limit on tweets. It follows an update in September that exempted quoted tweets and media attachments such as photos, videos, GIFs, and polls from being counted toward the limit.
Read more about that previous update