Twitter added a new “tweetstorm” feature last month that allows users to turn one tweet into a connected thread of tweets, potentially changing the way users interact with the news.
After Twitter’s domestic user base declined by two million last year, the site has implemented new features to keep people interested. When Twitter expanded the character count to 280 in October of 2017, only 0.4 percent of Twitter users were even reaching the 140 limit.
Rather than squeezing every bit of information in one tweet, people have been engaging in the trend of longform tweeting and using threads as a workaround to the character limit. Even high profile users like President Trump frequently do this.
“There was a big pushback against the 280 character expansion,” Aja Romano, web culture reporter at Vox, said in an interview with MediaFile. “Threading is much more crucial than 280 characters because it has evolved from how people were already using the platform organically.”
The tweetstorm feature is simple and easy; when a user goes to write a tweet, a plus sign will bring up more tweet windows to create a thread and publish multiple tweets at once.
“I think Twitter users are evolving with the platform,” Romano said. “People are getting more comfortable with manipulating its tools and features. There’s a continual level of interaction between social politics, real world news, and internet culture on Twitter. The concept to respond to that and interact with real world politics as they play out on your feed is heightened.”
Romano said that Twitter is in the public eye more than ever because of sociopolitical factors following the 2016 election. Since Twitter is also struggling financially, Romano said the site is taking advantage of the attention and giving users more ways to tweet in order to keep people on the platform longer.
“People recognize the value of the nature of Twitter as a space for pithiness and short statements made well,” Romano said. “In the era of constant news overload and the 24-hour news cycle, people still value Twitter as a place to get news quickly.”
The threading feature will not change the fundamental wittiness and succinctness of Twitter. According to Romano, the new feature will change the platform by giving users a formalized and more organized way to tweet.
“On Tuesday, instead of writing a blog post as their official statement, YouTube took to Twitter to do a thread responding to Logan Paul. This shift in the community, the ability to do an official statement in threaded form, will move Twitter more towards longer reads,” Romano said.
The new threading feature on Twitter will expand the way content and news is spread across the platform. Two-thirds of adults who use Twitter get their news from the platform, so threading news content may become more commonplace. Though tweetstorming may create a norm for longer reads, Romano said the Twitter community will still prioritize the short, witty and funny nature of the site.