We all love Twitter. Including the current president. But why do we love Twitter? Because it gives us the ability to send a message to the world using very few words. And that’s great. But the company is adding a feature that might detract from this reputation. Twitter has rolled out a new feature that will make it easier for users to send out a bunch of connected tweets at one time. This is what many refer to as a “tweetstorm”. Think Donald Trump on any given Saturday. Which means, users can now write multiple tweets and Twitter will automatically put them together and publish them in unison. People can essentially post longer thoughts than Twitter’s already-expanded 280 character limit.
Twitter will also label the threads with a “show this thread” icon. That way people will know that there is more to read. Which makes sense. Both from the perspective of wanting to read, and perhaps not wanting to as well. Twitter has been testing this to a select group for a few months. And then they launched it to everyone this past Tuesday. Tweetstorms aren’t new by any means. But they are definitely a pain when it comes to creating them. Previously, they required users to publish each tweet in a thread (one by one). This took time and could get complicated. Especially if you had a really long message.
On one hand, this is a great improvement, however, it’s also going to improve your ability to rant in an angry way. Is this a good thing? Twitter thinks that this is going to improve engagement. But is that the case? I get that engagement can include both positive and negative responses. But are we going to see a lot of positive “rants”? I have no problem with the feature itself, but the internet is a cruel place. Which is why I think that this is going to promote negative engagement, so I’m not sure that I’m behind this in theory. Twitter says that hundreds of thousands of threads are posted daily. The need for this feature has been apparent for years. My opinion aside, how does this feature work?
Type your first tweet and then hit the plus button in the lower right-hand corner. That brings up a new area where you’ll have another 280 characters to express yourself. Repeat the process until your thread is complete, and then hit “tweet,” and the entire thread will post all at once. If you want to update a thread later, open it and hit “add another tweet” in the thread. In addition, each line represents one tweet, with a character limit of 280 as per usual. You can also add the same amount of media – like GIFs, images, videos, and more – to any individual tweet in the thread, as you could on Twitter directly. When you’re finished with one tweet, you just tap in the space below to continue your thread. In addition, another handy feature allows you to go back and update a thread by adding new tweets after it already posted. To do so, you’ll write out the new tweet after tapping the “Add another Tweet” button.
The company is also responding to users’ concerns that by making tweetstorms more accessible to people, the Twitter timeline will become cluttered with longer posts that slow down users’ ability to quickly scan through posts, the way you can now. It says that a thread from someone with two or three tweets will appear in your timeline connected by a line to distinguish it, but when there are four or more tweets, the thread is truncated. In that case, you’ll see an option to “Show this thread.” If you click or tap on this message, the full thread will expand. This allows users to share their longer tweetstorms, but without taking over your timeline in the process.