Twitter has announced that it will not count @usernames within the character limit replies. Beginning Thursday, the changes will take effect, giving users more space to vent, pontificate, share or discuss their views, as the case may be.
The microblogging site also stated that the username will appear above the tweet text rather than with the tweet itself, so one has more characters to have conversations. For this, one can tap on “Replying to…” to easily see and control who’s part of his/her conversation. The new update will be rolling out now on twitter.com as well as on Twitter for iOS and Android.
“The updates we’re making today are based on feedback from all of you as well as research and experimentation. In our tests of this new experience, we found that people engage more with conversations on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.
This move is in line with the firms effots to expand user base and engagement, both metrics on which it has struggled over the past few quarters.
Moving in another direction which may actually hurt numbers initially, the company is also taking measures in order to crack down harassment, hate speech and online abuse. Twitter earlier said that it is taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and stop them from creating new accounts. The move is primarily focused on the accounts that are created only to abuse and harass others.
The company is working on a ‘safe search’ option which will remove all the Tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and Tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results. And lastly, Twitter is also working on identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward. All the changes are expected to roll out in the coming weeks.
We reckon that with the onslaught of Instagram, Snapchat and the yet to be launched next big thing, Twitter needs to do more to attract millenials. While there is no doubt that despite it struggle to convince marters, Twitter remains a key metric for influencers, especially the government, it needs to do more to attract younger users. Thus, while a ministry might be thrilled with the right retweet by say the Prime Ministers office, Twitter would do well to consider radical moves, like gamifying reach as well as Tweet quality, to address the issue of engagement and abuse both.