Twitter stops counting usernames in replies toward the 140-character limit

Finally.

Twitter’s 140-character limit is essential to its existence, but the company realizes how annoying it can be to trim your thoughts when composing a reply because the person you’re chatting with has a long username. Twitter has decided to no longer count a username toward your 140 characters, a change now rolling out to its iOS and Android apps as well as Twitter.com.

This means tweets will look a little bit different. Instead of including the username of the person you’re replying to in the tweet itself, the username will appear above your text. The change will make tweets more easily readable, especially when conversations include a handful of people. (This also means the end of lengthy @username clusters in Twitter reply canoes, at long last.)

Twitter is also offering a new “Replying to” feature so you can check or uncheck the usernames of the person or people you want to keep in or kick out of the conversation.

Twitter Product Manager Sasank Reddy said in a Thursday blog post that the feature was designed with user feedback in mind, and that “people engage more with conversations on Twitter” in tests of the new replies.

“Our work isn’t finished—we’ll continue to think about how we can improve conversations and make Twitter easier to use,” Reddy wrote.

That’s a common refrain for Twitter, which makes product changes at a positively glacial pace—especially compared to rival social platforms like Facebook. Big Blue just completely changed the look of your News Feed to include Stories, a brand-new way to share content on Facebook, and Twitter is just now making it possible to use all 140 characters in a reply. Meanwhile, Twitter users are still clamoring for an edit button. Twitter has become an essential platform for sharing news and finding information, especially now that the president of the United States uses it as his preferred communication tool. The company is finally making headway in curbing its abuse problem with new tools, which is a good sign. But Twitter needs to speed up its product changes to satisfy its existing users and attract new ones.

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Caitlin McGarry

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