Twitter user who is also a developer going by the alias Devesh Logendran has kicked up a storm in twitterati. He has discovered a hidden, experimental tweetstorm feature in Twitter’s Android app. This feature would let users to draft threads ahead of time in its entirety before pushing send — whereupon the messages would publish as one seamless thread. The feature was found within the Android app by the user – though it is not yet live on Twitter, nor is it being actively piloted among users.
According to screenshots, the Tweetstorm composer looks to automatically split up a block of text into separate Tweets, and then adds a number count at the end of each Tweet to make it easier for users to follow along chronologically.
WOAH! Twitter has a hidden tweet storm feature!
h/t Devesh Logendran pic.twitter.com/QpDLhKnAZZ
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 10, 2017
He passed along screenshots to Matt Navarra, Director of Social Media for The Next Web, (via Recode and Techcrunch) which he says were taken on an Android phone depicting the feature in action. The unlaunched feature isn’t live and Techcrunch notes that they’re not being publicly tested. Twitter declined to comment to both publications, and it’s not clear when, or if, it’ll ever be launched.
When it takes more than 140 characters to get a thought across on Twitter, only a tweetstorm will do. The long threads have become pretty common in the last couple of years, and it looks like Twitter has developed a way to take care of it.
Today, users who want to create a string of connected tweets – or a tweetstorm – have to manually reply to each of their previous tweets. This feature that Twitter is testing would allow people to draft all the tweets in the same place all at once and then automatically send it out as a threaded conversation.
One of Twitter’s most defining characteristics is that it limits users to sharing no more than 140 characters at a time. Tweetstorms give users a way to try and share longer thoughts in one place in a way that makes it easy for others to follow.
Twitter has considered expanding the character limit. A few years ago, the company internally discussed raising the limit to 10,000 characters, but ultimately decided to keep tweets shorter.
It’s questionable whether or not enabling tweetstorms is the wisest idea. Wouldn’t it be better if the company encouraged the user to post on Medium, where thoughts won’t read out like a tiny serialized novel? So as long as the company keeps its 140-character limit, though, it’s understandable why it would at least toy with the concept. The people who tend to indulge in tweetstorms (such as tech luminaries and political activists) are highly influential and drive a lot of activity. Twitter likely wants to do whatever it can to court these people lest they wander over to Facebook and take their followers with them.
Whether making tweetstorms easier is good for the information density and consumption trends of Twitter is up for debate.
Some think users should either condense their thoughts into a tweet or two, or write a separate blog post and link to it. Others think the serialized format can offer a special reading experience and reach a wider audience than an offsite blog. Either way, the Twitter sorting algorithm deemphasizes content with weak feedback, so if tweetstormers are boring their audience, they’ll pay the price in visibility.
Twitter’s already made a wise push to simplify itself in other ways, like dropping media embeds or usernames in replies from the character count. It remains to be seen whether launching a tweetstorm button could remove one more confusing block from the wall dividing Twitter from the mainstream.
Tags: Konnect Insights, Matt Navarra, Twitter