Twitter Gets Rid of Key Character Limit Rules

User Names, Media Attachments No Longer Part of 140-Character Count

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Twitter is about to get a little less complicated.

The company said it's getting rid of some of its rules, which can be confusing and sometimes alienating to new users of its social-media service. For example, to direct a post to someone on Twitter and let other people see it, you have to put punctuation -- .@ -- before the person's user name. If you want to reply to a tweet, or have a conversation with several people, their user names would count in your post against the 140-character limit on messages.

In the coming months, those rules will fade away, Twitter said Tuesday in a blog post. People will also be able to retweet themselves, if they feel a post went unnoticed or if they want to add commentary to something they wrote. Media attachments, such as photos, GIFs, videos and polls, will no longer count as characters against the limit.

The company's product, notoriously difficult for newcomers to understand, has been steadily tweaked over the past couple of years to be more intuitive. Twitter updated its login page to include examples of popular tweets, for example. Still, the company has had trouble expanding and retaining its base of about 310 million monthly active users, making further changes necessary.

"This is a part of our overarching and ongoing strategy to refine our iconic product," Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland said.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that links will also soon stop counting against the character limit, according to people familiar with the matter.

"We are always and will continue to look for ways to refine the experience," Berland said, declining to comment specifically.

Twitter shares reached an intraday record low Tuesday after Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said the company is less likely to be a takeout candidate, given declining interest from users and advertisers. He downgraded the company to "sell," saying it has yet to see "meaningful payoff" from initiatives to draw in new users.

"Hope is not a strategy," Nathanson wrote. "User growth initiatives have failed."

The stock was down 2.7% at $14.02 at 11.55 a.m. in New York.

-- Bloomberg News

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