The internet went bananas yesterday when rumors started swirling that we’d soon have a few more characters available to us for each of our carefully-crafted tweets — which, of course, has many people wondering exactly when the Twitter character limit is changing. After all, Twitter’s brevity is its greatest strength — and perhaps its greatest weakness, as well; if you have trouble condensing your thoughts into 140 characters… well, the platform likely isn’t going to be for you — so the idea of its most distinctive identifier going the way of all things is notable, no matter how you feel about it. So, when? When can we expect the limit to expand?
Well, I have good news and bad news for you: It might be soon… but we don’t actually know for sure yet. Also, it's not that the number of characters available per tweet itself might be changing — it's the things within a tweet that count toward the 140-character total.
Here, let me 'splain:
The Verge first reported the news on Monday, saying that as of Sept. 19, 2016 (there's your date for you), media attachments such as images, GIFs, videos, and polls, as well as quoted tweets, would no longer count towards the 140-character limit for which the social media platform is known. Given that the average media attachment has hitherto taken up somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 characters, that’s a not-insubstantial increase. The Verge also reported that usernames, too, will no longer count towards the 140-character limit, as long as they’re placed at the beginning of replies. If a Sept. 19 release date for these updates is indeed the case, we could have access to more verbose tweets as soon as next week.
However, it’s also worth noting that the character limit change has not been publicly confirmed by Twitter. The Verge "independently [confirmed]" the news, citing “two sources familiar with the company’s business” as its origin; the site also stated that “a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by The Verge.” Additionally, Bustle reached out to Twitter, and a spokesperson said the company had no comment at this time.
What all that adds up to is the fact that nothing is set in proverbial stone yet; it’s possible that Sept. 19 might pass us by with no changes in sight.
But it is likely that the change will be coming eventually. We’ve been hearing rumblings of a possible change all year; back in January, for example, it was rumored that the character limit would be expanding to a whopping 10,000. However, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey clarified shortly after the rumors arrived that the original 140-character constraint was simply a result of the medium in which they were working (e.g. the limits of how many characters could fit into a single SMS); he also praised the unexpected benefits that arose from the limit. “It’s become a beautiful constraint, and I love it!” Dorsey tweeted. “It inspires creativity and brevity. And a sense of speed. We will never lose that feeling.”
Then in May, the company announced on their blog that they were planning on finding ways to free up more characters: @names and media attachments, the blog post read, would eventually no longer count towards the 140-character limit. Additionally, the ability to retweet yourself or quote your own tweets was reportedly in the cards, as was the disappearance of the @ sign.
There’s no word on whether those last two additions might be part of the rumored Sept. 19 update — and for that matter, there’s no guarantee that the update, if it occurs, will even include all of the character limit changes we’ve heard about thus far. As The Verge stated, “It’s unclear whether all of these changes will occur simultaneously; certain content types may gradually stop counting against the character limit in stages.” Whatever the case, though, it’s believed that “the company will at least kick off the move next Monday.”
So, the TL;DR version is this: The character limit change might be coming on Sept. 19… but it might not be. Either way, you may want to brace yourselves — because I’m pretty sure a tweet storm will be coming no matter what actually happens.
Images: Giphy (2)