Twitter Expands 140 Limit, Destroys Excuses for Not Adding a GIF to Every Tweet

Freedom of expression.

In the last months, a lot of fuss has been made over the rumblings that Twitter might augment or do away with its famous 140-character limit in tweets. Today, it’s finally happened – but in a way that’s less likely to offend the #RIPTwitter faction.

Twitter has announced its plan to no longer count the link text for images, videos, Periscopes, Vines, or usernames in replies against a post’s character limit.

The news, in part, means we’ll all soon be absolutely without an excuse for not adding GIFs to every one of our posts on Twitter.

At large, of course, the news means that expression on Twitter will no longer involve the either/or predicament of rich media tweet/fully written-out, articulated tweet.

In an interview with the New York Times about this announcement, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that the new bit of character freedom will allow users to think less about Twitter and more about “what you’re saying” on Twitter. “This is something that has been requested from people using Twitter for quite some time,” Dorsey went on to explain.

Since Dorsey and company have only slightly tweaked the way Twitter factors what will and won’t be counted as characters in a post, the meat of tweets still remain under the microblogging service’s classic 140 limit. So there’s no danger of your timeline exploding with screen-length posts when these new guidelines kick in in the coming months.

When a report claiming that Twitter was looking to change its tweet character limit to 10,000 came out in January, longtime fans of the social network displayed their displeasure with the rumored change. Detractors of that report and one that said Twitter would do away with its chronological ordering of tweets in user’s timelines sent the hashtag #RIPTwitter trending on Twitter in February.

Twitter’s 140-character limit has been in place since the service launched in 2006. The social network was built around the idea that posts would be sent and received through text messages — which themselves have a 160-character limit. Because of this, tweets were created with a character constrain so they would fit (with @ username included) comfortably inside a standard SMS.

In addition to the upcoming character limit changes, Twitter also announced today that users will soon be able to retweet their own tweets and will no longer need to include a period (.@) at the front of a reply tweet if they want it to be seen by all of their followers.

With most people using smartphone apps to tweet on the go these days, Twitter’s 140 limit has become less about utility and more about style – a beloved style at that. These new character limit changes do well to bring Twitter into the now while still holding true to the slickness of its flip-phone, T9 tweeting roots. So fear not, stalwart Twitter protectors, and let the GIF tweets fly free.

Adam Rifkin /