Twitter's 140-character limit for social media posts has helped it become the go-to source for news and quick bits of information. Yet, the limit also, at times, made it difficult to reply to posts -- and complicated multi-person conversations.
Today, that changes.
Beginning today, when you reply to tweets, the original tweeter's username and any other usernames listed at the start of the reply will no longer count toward the 140-characters allowed in your post. This means that, for the first time, replies can be as long as other tweets - including those to which they are responding. Considering that 140 characters are not a lot in which to convey a thought, and that, at times, a significant portion of that allotment could be used up by usernames, this is a big change for Twitter users.
Today's move was anticipated, but few people knew when it would happen. Last May, Twitter announced that it would be implementing changes that would allow people to use more of their allotted 140 characters per Tweet for the content that they chose, rather than for Twitter infrastructure; today's change is part of that effort. In addition to the change being implemented now, last fall Twitter stopped counting the link to media (photos, GIFs, and videos) within a Tweet towards the 140-character limit, and it also does not count the link to a "Quoted Tweet" that someone shares underneath his or her own tweet above.
Ironically, Twitter's limit was based on cellphone SMS text messaging - which, historically, allowed 160 characters per message - so 140 seems likely to have been intended to be 140+usernames. But, in the end, Twitter did count usernames towards the 140 - not in addition to it - so today's change is a big help for those who reply to tweets.
Today's improvement also means a change of interface for Twitter users - information about to whom you are replying now appears above a tweet, rather than within it, something that should make understanding the flow of conversation easier in (previously confusing) multi-party Twitter conversations.
Additionally, Twitter now allows you to choose to whom you want a reply to be sent - so, instead of always "Replying All," you can select which parties from the original Tweet you want your Tweet to address, and only they will be tagged. This feature is enabled by clicking on the names in the "Replying to:" section.
All in all, these changes seem like a positive development that will enable better communication between users on Twitter, and make Twitter Chats more understandable. As a heavy Twitter user myself, I am looking forward to this change.