Verbose Twitter users rejoice.
In what could be one of the biggest changes to its format ever, Twitter Inc. is reportedly planning to stop counting photo and link URLs toward the 140-character limit for tweets. The change could come as soon as within the next two weeks, according to a report Monday in Bloomberg, which cited an anonymous source familiar with the plan.
Currently, links to external sources and photos in tweets can take up to 23 characters, leaving less room for users to pontificate about Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” or offer a hot take on the latest Donald Trump dustup. Twitter’s trademark 140-character limit was initially a byproduct of its early days as an SMS service, but there’s no technical reason it needs to stay that way in the smartphone era.
A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment Monday.
Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has been hinting at changes to the platform that could make it more appealing to a broader base of users. Rumors had circulated recently that Twitter was planning to do away with its 140-character rule altogether, extending the length for tweets to as many as 10,000 characters, as Recode reported. That plan, like many proposed changes to the format, was met with hostility by many loyalists, who took to the site to beg Dorsey not to mess with Twitter’s short-format staple.
Monday’s news, in contrast, was met largely with praise, with many users tweeting a variation of, “It’s about time.” The plan could be a compromise of sorts, giving users a little more room to express themselves, while still retaining the (now largely symbolic) 140-character feature that many loyal users seem to appreciate.
Twitter has struggled recently to increase its user base, clocking in at 310 million monthly active users at the end of the most recent quarter. That’s up only slightly over 305 million users at the end of the previous three months. The service is often seen as unintuitive and not very useful by newcomers, an issue that fuels perceptions of Twitter as little more than a bullhorn for opinionated celebrities and snarky journalists.
Twitter has unleashed a number of new features as of late, most notably “Moments,” which aims to give users a glimpse of important news of the day. But many users insist Twitter is most useful as a source of unfiltered, real-time information. At the same time, Twitter’s video efforts have been losing ground to those of Facebook, whose Facebook Live video feature is stealing thunder away from Twitter’s Periscope and Vine.