Twitter will stretch its 140-character limit

Twitter co-founder: My darkest moment
Twitter co-founder: My darkest moment

Twitter says it's stretching the iconic 140-character limit on tweets, taking @names and images out of the count.

In the coming months, the company said it will will only count text in its character count. Twitter handles in replies (marked with an "@" symbol), as well as photos, GIFs, videos and polls will no longer be counted against the character limits in a tweet.

"This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward," said Todd Sherman, Twitter's senior product manager, in a blog post. "No more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group."

Twitter (TWTR) also said it will update its social network with some frequently requested features.

For example, it will enable people to tweet at all their followers when they begin a tweet with the "@" symbol. Previously, a tweet that started with "@" would only show up in the recipient's feed. To get around that, people had tweeted with a ".@" when they wanted a tweet to show up everywhere.

Replies will still only be seen by the recipient. But Twitter will make it possible to broadcast that reply to everyone by retweeting a reply. Yes, people will now be able to retweet themselves.

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The company also hinted at more upcoming features.

"In addition to the changes outlined above, we have plans to help you get even more from your Tweets," Sherman said. "We're exploring ways to make existing uses easier and enable new ones."

Twitter has been rumored to be expanding its character count beyond 140 characters for many months. CEO Jack Dorsey has shot down those persistent rumors.

"That concept of brevity, speed and live conversation -- being able to think of something and put it out to the world instantly -- that's what's most important," said Dorsey in a prepared statement on Tuesday. "As long as things are fast, easy, simple and expressive, we're going to look at what we can do to make Twitter a better experience."

Many Twitter users have come to like the 140-character count. But others have found it too burdensome, posting photos of longer text or launching "tweetstorms" when they want to say something that doesn't fit small chunks of text.

The 140-character count was created to allow tweets to be send over SMS text messages. SMS has a 160-character count, so Twitter made its limit 20 characters shorter to allow for @names.

Twitter has a passionate group of more than 300 million customers, but its growth has stagnated. In an attempt to boost Twitter's popularity, the company has been looking for ways to make its service simpler to use, while also matching some of the richer features offered by many of its social media competitors.

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