Twitter Character Limit: Network Takes Drastic Measures To Save Itself

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NEW YORK — Twitter is making some big changes, at least in the context of 140 characters or less.

The social media service said Tuesday that in coming months, photos, videos and other media won't count toward Twitter's 140-character limit.

That means more wordy tweets are on the way.

The change, announced Tuesday, is yet another attempt by the San Francisco company to make its messaging service easier to use, and to attract new users.

twitter profile photo
In coming months, photos, videos and other media won't count toward Twitter's 140-character limit. (Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty)

Twitter did not, as many had speculated in recent months, abolish its character limit.

A person's Twitter handle, which starts with the "@'' symbol, also will not count against character limits. And people will be able to retweet and quote their own tweets.

In another change, any new tweet beginning with an @name will be seen by all followers. Previously, a tweet that started with a person's handle did not become part of their feed.

Twitter has tried to keep all users happy, those for and against relaxing character limits, by sticking to the current count while allowing more freedom to express thoughts, or rants, through images and other media.

Renaissance hopes

Above all, Twitter Inc. hopes that the changes will re-ignite user growth.

The San Francisco company, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday, is dwarfed by its rival, Facebook. Its current number of users, about 310 million users, trails even than the professional networking service LinkedIn.

Facebook has 1.65 billion users. Even though many people are familiar with Twitter, at least that it exists, the company has been unable to convert them to active users. Twitter remains hard to understand for many, with its own lingo of hashtags and symbols.

The changes announced Tuesday are the latest put in place with hopes of spurring growth.

Late last year, as it continued to struggle, Twitter brought back co-founder Jack Dorsey. In addition to staff and cost cuts, it launched a channel called "Moments'' that brings together hot topics in one place. Earlier this year, it tweaked its timeline to show users tweets that they may have missed while they were away.

Yet company shares continue to hemorrhage, falling 40 per cent this year.

Shares on Tuesday fell 4 per cent.

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