May 17, 2016

Why Twitter Is Removing Images, Links From Its Character Count

Twitter plans to remove images and links from its character count to allow users to include more text in their Tweets, according to reports.

Uploaded images or URL’s are currently shortened into a link of 21 characters, but an unnamed source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that these are likely to be disregarded from the character count of 140 within the next fortnight.

Although Twitter did not originally have a character count restriction of 140 upon its 2006 launch, the 140 character restriction was added in early on so Tweets would fit into a single SMS message (160 characters).

The latest move follows on from Twitter’s decision to increase the character count of direct messages (DMs) to 10,000. Longer DMs had been a requested feature from businesses, noted Jan van Vonno, senior research analyst at IDC European Software.

He said: “This is because DMs are often used to provide immediate customer support and now they need to break their messages into pieces to provide a complete response.


“The 140 character limits differentiate Twitter itself from other social media. It allows users to have real-time conversations around events happening in the present. For instance, I was keeping track of Max Verstappen’s performance in Formula1 by reading and refreshing the twitter feed every 10 seconds. It provided me real time insights of what was happening. “

In a statement earlier this year, Twitter CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey said that Twitter has been, and always will be, a public messaging platform, adding: “By focusing conversation and messaging, the majority of tweets will always be short and sweet and conversational.”

He will not be shy about building more utility and power into Twitter for people, though, he explained.

“We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screen shots of text and tweeting it,” he said. “Instead, what if that text…was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.”

Twitter has around 320m users worldwide but has struggled in recent years to further grow its user base. It has also failed to make a profit since its launch and its stock has fallen almost 40 percent in the past year.

The removal of images and links from Twitter’s character count suggests the social media platform is keen to adapt its core product in order to appeal to a wider audience.

Vonno said: “Social media is all about sharing content and facilitating the user’s voice. Removing URLs from the character count (all content, including pictures, gifs, and videos are rendered URLs on twitter), allows people to have conversations without being restricted. I don’t think this change is going to be enough to revamp Twitter, but at least it can encourage people to share more content over the platform.”