Category Archives: Twitter

Twitter Expanded the Character Limit



Twitter has expanded the number of characters that can fit into a single tweet from 140 to 280. This change is being rolled out “to languages where cramming was an issue.”

Twitter points out that “Japanese, Korean, and Chinese will continue to have 140 characters because cramming is not an issue in these languages. In fact, these languages have always been able to say more with their Tweets because of the density of their writing systems.”

It seems to me that not everyone who uses English on Twitter received the 280 character update right away. Those who have not been given the extra characters to tweet with will get the update eventually.

What will you do with 280 characters? While some people are filling their tweet with emoji, or stretching it out so it takes up a lot of space, others have used the opportunity to post something meaningful.

The Tony Awards tweeted part of the lyrics to “Give My Regards to Broadway”. The Chicago Cubs tweeted their win/loss record. Bob Vorwald, a “Chicago TV sports guy” tweeted the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. The Twitter account for The Office TV show tweeted out a cry for help. Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. tweeted his most memorable line from the TV show The Wire.

Love it, or hate it, the 280 character count is here to stay. One one hand, I see it as a good thing because it allows people to be creative and to express more of their thoughts in one tweet. Perhaps we will have fewer need for “Threads”. On the other hand, I fear that this change will enable mean people to spew 280 characters of hate at whomever they choose to attack.


Twitter Twits



All social media platforms have their problems, but I thought this one from Twitter took the biscuit. One tweet from 29 June and 4,100 followers. Does no-one check before following back?

 

Perhaps 600 people did check, hence the discrepancy, but that’s a pretty good (or bad) ratio depending on your point of view. If you follow someone first, 87% of the time, they’ll follow you back.

No, I’m not bitter that I only have 796 followers after 1,532 tweets but if anyone wants to improve my self-esteem, I’m @AndrewhPalmer. I always follow back…oh, wait….


Spooler Turns Twitter Threads into Blog Posts



Spooler was created by Darius Kazemi. (@tinysubversions). He makes all kinds of interesting stuff, and you can find links to it all at Tiny Subversions. Spooler turns Twitter threads into blog posts. It is currently in early beta, and, as such, Darius Kazemi says “expect bugs”.

I decided to give Spooler a try because I was curious about it. I’m not a person who writes daily threads on Twitter, but I have written some. Later, I take the thread I wrote and manually transcribe it onto Tumblr. It’s a bit tedious.

Start by creating a thread on your Twitter account. I learned that you have to do the thread properly – by replying to the previous tweet in the thread – all the way through. If you don’t connect the tweets in your thread that way, Spooler can only identify the last tweet in the thread. But, if you do it right, Spooler can see the entire thread, and will turn it into a blog post.

After your thread is done, go to the Spooler website and give it permission to access your Twitter account. This part of Spooler functions just like whatever other applications you have connected to your Twitter account.

Give Spooler the link to the last tweet in your thread, and it automatically turns your entire thread into a blog post. Spooler allows you to tweet a link to that blog post for people to read.

It’s super easy to use! I wasn’t sure if Spooler would work for me because my Twitter account is private, but it did. I believe that the people who follow me on Twitter can read my Spooler blog post. I’m not sure if people who do not follow me can access the Spooler post I wrote if they look at it on the Spooler website. I wrote that thread specifically so I could test out Spooler. I don’t mind who reads it.

Darius Kazemi wrote a blog post about building Spooler. It is an interesting read for people who want to know his decision making process.


Twitter has Started Giving Abusive Users a Time Out



Twitter has announced some updates that are designed to make Twitter a safer place. These improvements build upon the work that Twitter began in November of 2016. One of the most interesting updates involves a “time out” for abusive users. Twitter explained their motivations this way:

Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus. We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That’s put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices. We won’t tolerate it and we’re launching new efforts to stop it.

Twitter announced three changes. One was to stop the creation of new abusive accounts. Twitter is now taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and will stop them from creating new accounts.

Another change is a “safer search”, which “removes Tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and Tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results.” Twitter says that content will still be discoverable – if you want to find it. Tweets from people you blocked or muted will not automatically appear when you search for something on Twitter.

Personally, I’m a big fan of that new update. It takes away the instant gratification that some people appear to get by flooding a hashtag on a topic they disagree with with incoherent rage and images that Twitter would describe as “sensitive content”. At least, that’s what I hope the “safer search” will do.

The third change involves abusive or low-quality Tweets. Twitter has been working on identifying those kinds of Tweets and collapsing them. The result is that you will only see the most relevant replies and Tweets. Again, you can go dig up the Tweets you missed if you want to.

The most interesting update, in my opinion, involves an actual “time out” for people who break Twitter’s terms of service. Mashable reported that some users are receiving notices that Twitter temporarily limited their account features. The full features will be restored after 12 hours, and that countdown does not start until the user clicks a button. In the meantime, only that user’s followers will be able to see his or her Twitter activity.


Twitter Improved its Mute Feature



Twitter iconTwitter has a big problem with online abuse. In response, Twitter appears to have acknowledged this and has made some improvements. It announced this in a blog post titled “Progress on addressing online abuse”.

Twitter has improved its mute feature. The mute feature allows a user to mute accounts that they don’t want to see tweets from. Twitter has now expanded mute so that it functions in notifications. The improved mute feature will enable you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations that you do not want to see notifications about. The expanded mute feature will be rolled out to all users in the coming days.

In the blog post, Twitter points out that their hateful conduct policy prohibits conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease. Twitter has improved how to report that type of behavior.

Today we’re giving you a more direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.

In addition, Twitter has retrained all of their support teams on their policies, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program. Twitter also improved its internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it is reported to them.


Twitter Rolls Out Read Receipts on Direct Messages



Twitter iconTwitter is rolling out something new in its Direct Messages feature. When this feature is fully rolled out, it will enable anyone on Twitter who sends another user a Direct Message a read receipt – letting the sender know when (or if) the receiver read the DM. Do we really need this on Twitter?

The Twitter information about Direct Messages explains the read receipt addition this way:

Direct Messages feature read receipts so you know when people have seen your messages. When someone sends you a Direct Message and your Send/Receive read receipts setting is enabled, everyone in the conversation will know when you’ve seen it. This setting is enabled by default but you can turn it off (or back on) through your settings at any time. If you turn off the Send/Receive read receipts setting, you will not be able to see read receipts from other people.

The same information page has instructions about how to turn off the Send/Receive read receipts setting if you don’t want to use it. Turn it off, and you won’t get a read receipt message when you send a DM to another Twitter user. It is unclear if those other people, who have decided to leave the Send/Receive read receipt messages feature on, will still be able to tell when you have read their DM.

Do we really need a read receipt feature on Twitter? Is anyone actually sending Twitter Direct Messages that are so vitally important that they must know the instant the other person reads it?

People who need to connect with co-workers that live in across the country, or around the world, from them tend to use Slack. Everyone can see what the group has been talking about on Slack and respond to it whenever they see it. If you need to set up a meeting, it’s fairly easy to get everyone on Skype at the same time and have a discussion together. Why is Twitter trying to re-invent the wheel when we already have at least two functional wheels?

The Verge points out that the new read receipts feature could suggest that Twitter is working on making its Direct Messaging service have the capabilities of a standalone chat app. That’s a reasonable assumption.

The problem is that Twitter’s chat app will have limitations the other chat apps do not. People leave Twitter because Twitter has a huge problem with harassment. You might find that using Slack, Skype, or another chat app lets you connect to more people than Twitter can.

 


You Can Now Follow 5,000 Accounts on Twitter



Twitter logoTwitter has increased their current follow limit from 2,000 to 5,000 accounts. This increased follow limit is applicable to all Twitter users. Those of you who have been longing to follow several thousand more Twitter accounts can now go ahead and do so.

Personally, I don’t see the appeal of being able to follow 5,000 people. I’m following less than 300 Twitter accounts, and every so often it feels like too much and I start whittling that number down (for my own sanity). I suspect that brands who use Twitter will take advantage of the increased follow limit to connect with more potential customers.

Twitter announced this change in the form of a tweet on their @Support account. Of course, they did. Where could possibly be a more appropriate place to put this sort of announcement?

There are some limitations to be aware of. Twitter takes a look every user’s “ratio of followers to following”. Every user can now follow 5,000 accounts. Some users can follow more.

For example, if you are only followed by 100 accounts, Twitter will not let you follow 10,000 accounts. Twitter will let you know when you hit your limit by showing you an error message. Later, when more accounts are following you, Twitter will allow you to follow more accounts. The purpose of this limitation seems to be to prevent spam accounts from putting a strain on the site.


Relay Makes it Easy for you to Shop on Twitter



Twitter logoWe’ve all seen people with their eyes glued to their phones, possibly on Twitter, while they are out shopping. Now, you can shop while you are tweeting (or, at least while you are looking at Twitter). Relay makes it easier for shoppers to buy products advertised on Twitter. It also makes it easier for people to sell products via Twitter.

Relay is an API for stores to publish their products and for apps to read them. It was launched by Stripe. The goal is to make people’s online shopping experience as simple as possible. Relay was designed to solve a problem that mobile users face when trying to shop online. Stripe describes the problem this way:

Today, mobile e-commerce websites aren’t working: Ten-step shopping carts, mandatory account signup , slow page loads. When we get linked to a shopping cart on our phone, we usually just give up. That shouldn’t be surprising – most mobile shopping sites are fundamentally the same as the desktop sites that preceded them, despite the medium calling for something completely different.

The result has been predictable. Despite mobile devices representing 60% of browsing traffic for shopping sites, they only make up 15% of purchases.

Warby Parker promoted ad with buy button

You can try the Relay system out on Twitter. The next Promoted Tweet you see could have a “Buy” button. Click that button, and it will automatically take you to a page where you can purchase the product. The process of shopping on Twitter just got a lot more streamlined!

Stores can use Relay to enable instant purchases in third-party mobile apps (such as Twitter). It is also possible for an independent person to submit their products to be shown in apps like ShopStyle and Spring. Ideally, this can help small businesses, artists, or musicians, to avoid losing sales because people found it to frustrating to go from Twitter to the seller’s main website.