There’s been some big changes in the social media world this week. Twitter switched up longstanding rules, and acts as a canary in the coal mine for commerce. Facebook comes under fire and adjusts its approach. Another platform approaches $20 billion in valuation. Today’s post runs down this week’s need-to-know social networking developments.
Twitter to ease character limit
Known for limiting tweets to 140 characters, Twitter announced Tuesday that it’s getting more lenient. Right now, for example, tweeting a photo eats 20 valuable characters. Soon Twitter will lift this restriction, among others, to make itself simpler to use and more attractive to newcomers.
Twitter’s changes include:
- Media attachments—such as photos and videos—will no longer count towards the character limit
- @usernames in replies will not be counted
- People will be able to retweet and quote-tweet themselves
- Tweets starting with an @username—that are not replies—will be seen by all of a person’s followers
These are great changes offering more flexibility when succinctly conveying your message. However, links will still count toward the limit—eating 23 characters.
The changes came on the heals of a recent rough day on Wall Street. MarketWatch reported on Tuesday that the platform’s shares fell as much as 4.7 percent, highlighting its struggles to woo investors and new users. This news punctuates Twitter’s struggle to grow its user base—maintaining around 300 million active users over the past year.
No love for Twitter’s “Buy” button
News broke Wednesday that Twitter has disbanded its commerce team and ceased development of its “Buy” button. The decision signals a sluggish uptake of social commerce—where social media companies enable the sale of products directly within their platforms.
The “Buy” button will remain active, but Internet Retailer reported that Twitter will no longer build new technology for it. Instead, the platform is shifting focus to dynamic product ads—which show users product images based on what they viewed on another website or app. When clicking the ad, it will take a user to the retailer’s website.
Changes coming to Facebook’s “Trending Topics”
Last week, a former “news curator” for Facebook’s “Trending Topics” feature alleged coworkers regularly suppressed topics of interest to conservative users. Amid the allegations, Facebook announced Monday that it is changing how it selects featured news items.
The Washington Post reported that changes include:
- Discontinuing analysis of media organization’s websites and RSS feeds to determine importance of trending topics
- Removing a list of 1,000 journalism outlets that helps curators evaluate newsworthiness of potential stories
Facebook concluded from its internal investigation that no systematic political bias existed. It also stated that it featured conservative and liberal topics in equal frequencies.
Snapchat secures billions in new funding
Snapchat announced in a recent filing that it closed a $1.8 billion Series-F funding round. With additional financing, the startup is now valued at close to $18 billion. Not too shabby for a company that launched just four years ago.
The social networking service also reported having 110 million daily active users at year-end 2015, up from 74 million at the end of 2014. That’s a more than 48 percent increase in just one year. Go Snapchat for having the best week out of the three social platforms!