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Twitter shortens tweet characters #bothered

22 Feb 13

Twitter may have forced its members to be more succinct, shortening its tweets by two characters.

But developers need not complain.

Changes to the way the social media site deals with web links means including one will see the number of characters reduced to at least 118, 117 with a more secure "https" protocol.

Yet the Twitter "wrap" as the industry likes to call it is no big deal to most, especially over at Digital Hothouse, an Auckland based digital agency.

"Twitter's link wrapper t.co is being changed to include 10 characters instead of 8 but developers shouldn't be concerned," says Paul Thornton, Head of Execution, Digital Hothouse.

"These t.co links are like telephone numbers so at some point they were always going to run out."

Originally announced to web developers in December, developers complained the t.co was taking up more space than necessary.

Not to be deterred, like all big companies, Twitter pressed on, officially implementing the move on February 20.

The automatic wrapper, used regardless of any other URL-shortening service in place, protects the service from potentially harmful websites which could inevitably spread viruses and launch attacks.

"Increasing the characters from 8 to 10 has increased the number of links that they can have from 2800 trillion to 7.5 million trillion (or 7.5 quintillion if that means anything to you!)," reminds Thornton, who focuses on SEO, Google Adwords, Marketing and Social Media.

"At current levels of half a billion tweets a day, Twitter will run out of links in 15 years.

"They now have 2,700 times the number of URLs they had in the first place."

Twitter's master plan of growing its advertising business appears to be a key driver behind the move, allowing the site to take greater control over posted content.

But as with anything, a logical step-back is all that is required for agitated developers.

"The key thing to remember is that you don't have to use t.co.," says Thornton, speaking from his company HQ in Takapuna.

"You can go to bit.ly or goo.gl or any other link shortening website.

"I think there's a typical bit of baiting from news sites trying to stir up a fuss, but if you add a link on twitter now, you should be prepared to lose over 15% of the characters available to you anyways."

What do you think of Twitter's new character shortening? Tell us your thoughts below

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