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Hacking the Tweet Stream

MG Siegler writes about one of the latest trends in changing the way longer messages are shared on Twitter:

More recently, there’s been a trend with a similar goal (to increase the 140-character limit), but immensely better execution and flow: appending screenshots of text to tweets.

In the age of Tweetstorms, I thought I would grow to hate this as well. But I actually quite like it. One big reason: it maintains the flow of the tweet stream. That is, it’s one tweet with a payload, so it both flows in and out of the stream just as quickly as a regular tweet. And, more importantly, it can be retweeted (another one of those early Twitter “hacks” that has since become part of the official canon) and replied to without breaking context.

I’ve seen this as well, and it’s becoming more frequent each week. Since the beginning of mobile Twitter clients, there’s always been a desire from some users to be able to share longer tweets. Twitter never caved in to the pressure and maintained the historic character limitation of tweets, but, as MG notes, screenshots and tweetstorms are clever in that they “hack” the Twitter stream natively through replies and inline previews. An interesting consequence of changing the timeline from a simple list of tweets to something different.