independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Twitter shortens tweets by two characters

Twitter has forced its members to be even more succinct than before, with changes to the way it deals with web links that mean they will get two fewer characters in which to express themselves.

Previously, including a web link cut the number of characters available in each tweet from the full 140 to 120. Now when Twitter members want to share a URL there are only 118 left in which to add commentary.

If the website being linked to uses the more secure “https” protocol, there are now only 117 characters, where previously there were 119.

The change was announced to web developers in December but has been implemented today.

When members post a link, Twitter automatically “wraps” it in another link beginning t.co, even when another URL-shortening service such as bit.ly is used. The firm says this process allows it to protect the service from malicious websites that might spread computer viruses and track the most popular links being shared.

When Twitter introduced t.co, some developers complained it was taking up more space than it needed to and hijacked other URL shorteners.

"Sorry, but this really sucks. I have my own URL shortener; I don't want it transformed or wrapped into something else," said Mark Goodge, a British developer.

Twitter's introduction of its own link wrapper was seen as part of an effort to take more control over how members interact with the service, at the expense of some outside applications. This has also included restricting third party Twitter clients in favour of Tweetdeck, which it owns, creating its own Instagram-style image filters and stopping other social networks such as LinkedIn letting members use their Twitter follower lists to make contacts.

The moves are part of Twitter's plans to grow its advertising business by assumiing more control over content posted by members.

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