Twitter Expands to 280

After a brief trial, Twitter is officially rolling out 280-character tweets to everyone starting today. You should be able to tweet out double the amount starting now using both Twitter’s website as well as its mobile app.

Image result for twitter 280 characters

Twitter originally test-drove the feature with a small group of users this September. During the trial, it was looking to see how the longer tweet length affected how and when people tweeted. In a blog post announcing the update, Product Manager Aliza Rosen commented that the goal was to give people more characters to tweet with while ensuring that it kept the “speed and brevity that makes Twitter, Twitter.”

After looking at the data, it found that even people who had the 280-character limit more often than not still tweeted under 140 characters. The longer length was only used when it was needed, and according to Twitter, made people tweet more easily and more often.

“Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you’ll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline,” Rosen said in her post.

If you want to try out the new 280-character limit for yourself, you should have the ability now on Twitter’s website and mobile app. If for some reason you don’t, try refreshing the website or updating your app. The feature should be available for most soon.

Japanese, Korean, and Chinese tweets will continue to have a 140-character limit because Twitter says “cramming is not an issue in these languages.”

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Twitter’s Desktop Night Mode Arrives

Twitter today rolled out Night Mode for its desktop site. We have known that it was coming since a Twitter spokesperson confirmed it was testing the feature last month, but now it seems to be rolling out more widely.

You can see that I turned on “night mode” today and it looks pretty darn nifty.

To access Night Mode on desktop, click your profile image on the top right corner of the screen (see above), and go down to the bottom of the drop-down menu. The Night Mode option has a crescent moon icon next to it, just in case the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway.

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Dark Twitter Has Arrived on iOS

darktwitterHere is a nice little tip if you use Twitter on your iPhone.

Twitter’s much sought after dark mode has finally made its way from Android to iOS.

If you’re not sure what exactly a “dark mode” does it’s actually quite simple. Dark Mode changes your background color to a darker grey, and tweet text to white.

How to Change Your Twitter to “Dark Mode”

To activate it, Twitter says you just need to tap the Me icon at the bottom of your screen, then the gear icon towards the top. Select ‘turn on dark mode,’ and away you go. If you ever want to go back to the boring old white background, the process is the same.

As you can see by the image I have mine setup and I like it! It is actually much easier to read.

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Twitter Eases Up It’s Character Limit… Just a Bit

If  you are a Twitter user you will happy to learn that soon the 140-character limit will be relaxed – just a little bit.

Twitter reported Tuesday that it will soon introduce changes that will exempt certain features from counting toward that limit, including media attachments such as photos, GIFs, videos and polls. To a lesser degree – but every little bit helps, the @names in tweet replies will no longer be counted against the 140-character limit.

Twitter’s stingy character count has been a been an ongoing complaint of users. There were rumors earlier this year that Twitter was considering allowing tweets up to 10,000 in characters but that has not come true yet, and probably never will.

Twitter will also simplify the rules for tweets that start with a username to retire the “@ convention.” Under the new rules, tweets that begin with a username will reach all of your followers.

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Twitter’s New Algorithm

Earlier this week is appears to me that Twitter’s rumored algorithmic timeline was heralded as the end of the service by many, but when it launched, it amounted to nothing more than the natural evolution of the prior ‘while you were away’ feature.

The algorithm now appears to be enabled by default across the social network. This is very similar to how Facebook’s timeline works by default – which many complain about.

The feed’s documentation was also updated on March 7 to add a new paragraph saying that the behavior must now be switched off, rather than on:

Twitter states that tweets you are likely to care about most will show up first in your timeline. We choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more. You can find instructions for how to turn off this behavior here”.

That change comes just a month after the feature was first launched on February 10, when Twitter said that it would require opting in, but noted that it would become default in “the coming weeks.”

My fear is that if this works anything like Facebook’s algorithmic timeline is will frustrate users more then help them.

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Apple Support via Twitter

Here is an innovative idea and it comes from Apple of all places.

Apple today created an official Twitter support account to provide customers with tips, tricks, and customer service regarding the company’s product and services. One of the account’s first tweets shares step-by-step instructions on how to turn lists into checklists in the stock Notes app on iPhone.


Many large companies provide customer service on Twitter in 140 characters or less, and it appears that Apple will directly respond to customer tweets as well. The account is currently set to accept Direct Messages, although Apple may choose to disable that option akin to some of its other Twitter accounts.

Apple continues to lack an official company presence on the popular microblogging service, although it does have some Twitter accounts for specific products and services like the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and Beats 1. Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and many other executives also have personal accounts.

Check it out here.

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Surface Support Comes to Twitter

Today Microsoft launched their official Surface Support Twitter Feed. This is available exclusively to Twitter users and appears, to me to be a winner.

The account has gained 1,200 follows in about 24 hours which is probably good news for Microsoft as it obviously demonstrates the wide approval of Microsoft’s Surface line.

What has me excited is that the account has already posted some useful content. In just a few hours, Surface users have posted several hundred support questions. Those operating the new support account have been busy, providing suggested actions to each and every support question that I can see so far.

If you own a Surface tablet make sure to follow the new twitter account.

You can find and subscribe to the the new feed here.

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Don’t Let Social Media Ruin TV & Film

As you know – if you are a dedicated reader that is, I really enjoyed the new Star Trek movie. In fact I mentioned that there were at least 3 real surprises to me during the movie. I had to work really hard to keep myself sheltered from Trek news and movie spoilers for almost an entire year. This was a very difficult task, considering how connected we are all and that everything these days can appear on twitter and Facebook seconds after it has occurred.

My efforts to remain in the dark (pun intended), for “Star Trek Into Darkness” got me thinking about how social media can serious hurt our enjoyment of TV & film.

For example last night HBO aired the season finale of Game of Thrones which resulted in millions of tweeters obviously saying, “Finally! We can talk about this massive event!”

Except not everyone watched the show when it aired. And in the fine tradition those with DVR’s or with subscriptions to HBO GO took to social media last night to beseech their friends, acquaintances, or random people on their Twitter feed to please, please, please not talk about the show. And in another fine Internet tradition, people immediately took exception to being told what to do online and began arguing about it.

Riveting television shows, divergent TV viewing schedules, and Internet “discussions” dominated by people who can’t go to bed because someone is wrong are not going to go away. But you don’t have to be sucked into the madness, or suffer spoilers on your favorite TV shows.

Read on for some suggestions on how to avoid the spoiler aspects of social media.

On average spoilers last about one week for movies, and considerably less for TV. What this means is that spoilers will appear on social medial sites very quickly once the TV show or movie has aired. The tweeting for a new movie can go on for a week after premiering and a day or so after a TV episode has aired.

The best way to avoid spoilers on social media is to forsake the social dimension of watching TV, and go offline until you’ve had a chance to catch up. I know this is difficult but it can pay off especially for shows like Game of Thrones & Mad Men.

However, sometimes your job requires you to check in regularly on social media or you just can’t help yourself. Even then, the responsibility is still on you to filter out or screen content that you don’t want to see. You can do this by unfollowing people on Facebook or Twitter, hiding people on Facebook, sorting your Twitter feed into lists of people talking about pop culture versus those who don’t, or hiding tweets based on hashtags. Third-party Twitter applications will usually let you create filters that block out specific hashtags.

If all this seems like a lot of work simply do what I did with “Star Trek into Darkness“. Whenever you stumble upon comments regarding the episodes of shows you have not watched, stop, don’t read the post and move on quickly. This self control can be difficult I admit but it is the most sure way to not spoil your favorite TV shows or upcoming movies.

Finally you must accept the new spoiler situation. Know that filtering by hashtag or blocking streams only works if other people are playing by the rules—and, as we all know, enforcing any rules online is a loser’s bet. Also accept that you will get hit by stray spoilers in any social media space. So find something else to read if the comments are discussing a TV show or movie you have not seen yet.

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Protecting Your Twitter Privacy

Twitter is quite different than Facebook in many ways. One of the biggest differences is that you do not have to ask to follow someone. Because of this you probably have many “followers” you don’t know. If you take a look at your followers closely you will probably find many people and companies you probably don’t want reading your “tweets”. Recently many companies and other persons have started following people on twitter in order to get an idea of your likes, dislikes, habits etc in order to target advertisements your way.

Protect your privacy and clean up your “followers” on a regular basis. Here are step by step directions to do this.

Step 1: Click the followers list on the right side of your Twitter page.

Step 2: You will see a list of all your followers. Review the list and click on each follower you wish to block.

Step 3: On the far right side, click on the settings wheel and choose “Block”.

Rinse and Repeat as necessary. This is an ever increasing problem on Twitter and I hope that eventually, like Facebook Twitter acount holders should be required to approve followers. Imagine, taking security lessons from Facebook. Amazing.

A special thank you goes out to co-worker Jay Ferriola for his question about this when he complained, “who are all these people following me on twitter!?”

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Tech Blog Now On Twitter

The West Chester Employee’s Tech Blog is also now on Twitter. For those of you not familure with Twitter check it out and sign up to receive Twitter updates on your SmartPhone, tablet or even your plain old computer (how old school).

I think of Twitter as a great way to stay up to date with topics that interest you. Today all news sources have Twitter feeds and agencies like NASA post updates there as well.

If you do not have a Twitter feed you can learn more and sign up at

If you already have a Twitter account sign up for the West Chester Tech Blog page at

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