140 Characters of Pure Muscle
After over a decade of forcing users to get creative within its strict 140-character parameters, Twitter's now-ingrained length limit is getting ever-so-slightly more lenient. On Tuesday, the social network announced that media attachments such as photos and GIFs will no longer count toward the character limit, a game-changer that allows users to incorporate more multimedia into individual tweets without sacrificing precious room for text.
User handles, which are designated by an "@" symbol, will also be exempt from the character count, and tweets beginning with a handle will no longer vanish from users' timelines as they currently do. This relieves the Twitterverse of an odd makeshift trick wherein users place a period before the @ sign in order to make a tweet appear on their main timeline:
In what has surely been a source of stress for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the 140-character limit is both what makes the platform unique and an impediment to its growth. Twitter has struggled to attract new users after growth began to level off in 2009, in part because potential newbies are turned off by the difficult prospect of choosing their words carefully to abide by the length limit. Meanwhile, loyal Tweeters have embraced the limit as a necessary cap on the enormous volume of text published on the site — so fervently so that initial reports back in January that Dorsey planned to significantly alter the limit were met with outrage. At the very least, if users find themselves frustrated by even this more minor change, they'll have more room on Twitter to vent their frustrations in GIF form.