Twitter’s 140-character limit may not count photos and links anymore

Report: Twitter’s 140-Character Limit May Not Count Photos and Links Anymore

Report: Twitter’s 140-Character Limit May Not Count Photos and Links Anymore

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 16 2016 5:47 PM

Report: Twitter’s 140-Character Limit May Not Count Photos and Links Anymore

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It can be tough to fit everything into one tweet.

Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Twitter’s trademark 140-character limit, which evolved from the number of characters that fit in a traditional SMS text message, is meant to be both refreshing and challenging for users. But as Twitter toys with questions about how to expand its user base and increase revenue, rumors that the service will change the character limit have surfaced more and more. And now there’s another one.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Twitter is going to change how it counts media in tweets so that photos and links don’t eat up characters. Currently each component takes up 23 characters. And that’s even the allotment for links when they’re shortened or are less than 23 characters to begin with. Bloomberg’s anonymous source says that the change will come in the next couple of weeks.

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As my colleague Will Oremus wrote on Slate in 2015, “In the nine-plus years since its founding, Twitter has honored its core product’s minimalist roots to a fault, endearing it to power users but alienating and confusing the masses.” Minimizing the demands of photos and links on the character count may be a good compromise. It gives users a little more leeway without too much mission creep. Maybe Twitter has finally hit on the compromise everyone’s been waiting for.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.