“Retweet with comment” allows users to embed a tweet in their own tweets, which lets them get around Twitter’s 140-character limit when they write their own commentary. The feature is now available on Twitter’s site and iPhone app and will be available on its Android app soon.
— Twitter (@twitter) April 6, 2015
Twitter previously let users embed quoted tweets by cutting-and-pasting its URL, but “retweet and comment” lets you do that by just pressing a button. The feature’s arrival has been heralded with much (somewhat ironic) rejoicing by Twitter users. Unfortunately, you can’t embed the full retweet and comment, as I just found out to my disconcertment while preparing this post (click on the embedded tweets to see how they look in the wild).
Please retweet this to spread awareness for retweets. https://t.co/aPKETaWm1I
— Eli Langer (@EliLanger) April 7, 2015
— Roberto Baldwin (@strngwys) April 7, 2015
— mat (@mat) April 7, 2015
As my colleague Sarah Perez pointed out last year, however, the feature serves a serious purpose. For one thing, it allows people to share and comment on tweets without having to shorten the original tweet, which means that its context and meaning is preserved.
Forcing users to truncate their rambling thoughts into pithy soundbites was one of Twitter’s original charms, but as the platform matures, many influential users have been devising ways of getting around the character limit so they can use Twitter as their main public communication platform instead of, say, a blog. Hence the rise of “tweetstorms,” which were initially derided by many long-time Twitter users, but show no signs of abating.
Another popular way of getting around Twitter’s enforced brevity is posting screenshots of quotes from articles. This inspired the app OneShot, made as a side project by Twitter veteran Jason Goldman, a former VP of product at Twitter.
Of course, hacking Twitter’s character limit is nothing new. Users have been figuring out ways to enable their loquacity since the platform was launched with products like TwitLonger and JumboTweet. The official rollout of Twitter’s “retweet with comment” feature just puts an imprimatur on one kind of longform tweet.
Unfortunately, the feature only lets you quote one layer of tweets, so if you’re out of luck if you were hoping to perform a retweetception.
Testing retweetception https://t.co/039BlDSS85
— Catherine Shu (@CatherineShu) April 7, 2015