Major changes to Twitter are often met with dismay from long-time users, who are typically quite resistant to change, and the latest announcements from the social network have continued that trend.
Over the past few years, certain elements have gradually been moved outside of the standard 140-character limit, although the core functionality of the site hasn’t really changed.
Direct Messages no longer have the limit at all, while multimedia elements like pictures, videos and Vines, as well as quoted tweets and retweets, have been integrated into the site to have less of an impact on character count.
Now Twitter are tackling the character count head-on by relieving some of the pressure from text elements too.
For instance, it will soon be possible to send a tweet as a reply to as many as 50 users at a time, with none of their usernames (signified on Twitter by the @ symbol) counting towards the 140 characters of the tweet text.
But the aspect of this that has raised concern among long-time users is the fact that tweets beginning with an @ sign – which previously addressed the tweet only to one person – will now appear on all followers’ timelines.
This effectively removes the ability to ‘hide’ a public tweet from followers’ timelines by addressing it to a single recipient, and means that customer service enquiries and complaints, in particular, are more likely to be much more visible in future.
However, it is worth stressing that this change only affects ‘new’ tweets that begin a conversation – and if you reply to a user’s previous tweet, the reply will only appear on their timeline.
It’s a subtle distinction that many are likely to get wrong, but it means that if you tend to ‘reply’ to enquiries by creating a new tweet rather than actually clicking the ‘reply’ button, you could soon be at risk of spamming your followers’ timelines unintentionally, once the new features start to come into use.