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:
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:
But this Tweet (because of the period) can be seen by everyone who follows A.J., regardless of whether they follow me:
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):
A few simple changes to make conversations on Twitter easier! And no more removing characters for images or videos! https://t.co/7XjGN8k0p6A few simple changes to make conversations on Twitter easier! And no more removing characters for images or videos! https://t.co/7XjGN8k0p6— Jack (@jack) May 24, 2016May 24, 2016
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!
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