No, Twitter's update won't make all your replies public

By now you may have heard that Twitter's got a few changes in the works. Basically, the company's rolling out new features that will give everyone a full 140 characters of text in each Tweet — @names, images and other media attachments, and more won't count against your treasured 140 characters.

That's all fine and dandy, but the company also announced another change that's setting the internet ablaze with Twitter-is-doomed-and-or-confusing-hot-takes:

Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you'll no longer have to use the ".@" convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

Currently, if you type a new Tweet with a person's Twitter handle at the beginning, it will hide that Tweet from those who follow you — unless they also follow the person you've mentioned.

This Tweet, for example, can only be seen by people who follow both me and my pal A.J. Feather:

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But this Tweet (because of the period) can be seen by everyone who follows A.J., regardless of whether they follow me:

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When Twitter finishes rolling out the update, that's going to change. But we've got to get something straight, here, people: This doesn't mean that Twitter is making all your replies public.

Here's how the new reply rules work:

  • If you start a new Tweet from scratch and put someone's Twitter handle at the beginning (like the first Tweet above), everyone who follows you will see that Tweet.
  • If you reply to a Tweet, however, your reply will only be seen by those people who follow that person and you, just like before. It does not automatically stick all your replies into your friends' Twitter timelines.
  • Now, if you do want everyone to see your reply, Twitter's made it possible to Retweet and Quote-tweet yourself. You just have to Retweet your reply, and it will show up in your timeline.

Personally, I'm fond of this change. The put-a-period-in-front-of-a-Twitter-handle-for-everyone-to-see-your-reply method was always rather hacky and it sure as hell wasn't new-user friendly. Twitter's CEO says these changes are all about ease of use (i.e. new-user friendliness):

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But given all the confusion (and outrage) this morning after the changes were announced, you have to wonder if this will truly make things any easier. Is putting a period in front of a Twitter handle easier than keeping track of whether you hit reply or start a fresh Tweet? Hard to tell. One thing's for sure, Twitter could shift the text in a Tweet two pixels to the right and the internet would have something to say about it.

Did Twitter's announcement confuse you? Are you looking forward to the new reply rules? Let us know in the comments or send us a (new) Tweet on Twitter!

Mikah Sargent

Mikah Sargent is Senior Editor at Mobile Nations. When he's not bothering his chihuahuas, Mikah spends entirely too much time and money on HomeKit products. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikahsargent if you're so inclined.