Leave it to Twitter to spend almost a year testing a new feature only to have everyone instantly hate it.
That’s what happened with the service’s latest update, which changes replies so they don’t count against the platform’s 140-character limit.
On its face, that sounds like a good thing — you’re able to get a few extra characters in for the actual tweet, rather than wasting space on users’ handles. But, once again, Twitter’s execution missed the mark — despite the fact they’ve been testing the feature for almost a full year.
Now when a user replies, the handles are surfaced inline above a tweet, rather than within the tweet itself. That doesn’t sound so bad — but, as Twitter is quickly finding out, it’s resulted in one pretty huge flaw.
Because Twitter now doesn’t count usernames toward character limits, people can use this as a way to spam other by adding dozens of users to a reply at once. Yes, Twitter’s rules prohibit this type of behavior but it’s still happening.
i’m already tagged in a 50+ person reply chain without replying myself. you can just add anyone. cool feature
— leon (@leyawn) March 30, 2017
This issue is made worse by the fact that tweets like this inevitably set off a chain of replies which triggers an endless wave of notifications for those tagged in a thread. Though Twitter allows you to mute conversations, doing so becomes much more difficult when there are multiple conversations related to the same thread happening simultaneously. So your only real choice in these situations is to filter your notifications, which may cause you to miss some tweets you might actually want to see.
twitter’s new mentions feature is like when someone cc’s everyone on an email except you can’t tell it’s 50 people pic.twitter.com/4MzIxBbzQR
— Owen ⚡️ (@ow) March 30, 2017
It’s also confusing for people since it’s more difficult to tell who a reply is directed at in the first place.
The new format for twitter replies makes it look like people are just tweeting random sentences. It’s kind of great. pic.twitter.com/Zl8F4QJvQG
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) March 30, 2017
The new replies on Twitter are messy when it looks like somebody is just talking to themselves. lol.
— Tiffani Ashley Bell (@tiffani) March 30, 2017
Other users are concerned the changes could lead to more abuse.
USERS: we love twitter but it has problems
TWITTER: great we’ll fix them
USERS: do you want to know what they are
TWITTER: absolutely not
— actioncookbook (@actioncookbook) January 5, 2016
USER: 200 times a day, CuckFuhrer420 threatens to kill my children
TWITTER: would it help if he could tag an unlimited number of children
— Tom McKay (@thetomzone) March 30, 2017
And, as with most major Twitter updates, everyone is still really upset there’s no sign of an edit button.
users, since the 2000s: edit tweet feature please
2017 twitter: let’s roll out this new replies system no one asked for
— notorious klance (@kiseing) March 30, 2017