Twitter has announced line breaks via its @TwitterForNews account, and this means some good and bad things are about to happen.
Let’s start off with the good news. By enabling line breaks, there’s an opportunity for Twitter’s users to be a little more creative with their tweets. It opens the door for text-based emoticons, like what you see below, or even poems if you’re the literary type.
Normally you’d have to take your time to figure out how many periods or dashes you’d need to add to fill in the whitespace so that your emoticon or whatever picture you’re trying to create wouldn’t look jumbled. For instance, we imagine that the Argentinean Smart car campaign we highlighted last year would have had a much easier time had Twitter implemented line breaks at the time.
What’s worth mentioning here though is that the ability to add line breaks already exists on its mobile and desktop platforms (iOS, Android, and Twitter for Mac to be specific) so it’s a natural progression for Twitter to roll this out finally to its Web app. Twitter didn’t end up saying a peep about the feature in other devices – it was more like an Easter egg until now. But thanks to the official tweet tweet, this time around a lot more people are aware about the line break’s existence.
But to play devil’s advocate line breaks has the potential to be abused, which will undoubtedly be the case. Many users are probably familiar with tweets directed to them from an account for the sole purpose of spamming users with a link to a malicious site, porn … you get the idea. If the frequency of spammy tweets wasn’t annoying enough, these fake accounts could easily take up a lot more retail space in your “Interactions” feed. And when Twitter doesn’t offer an option to filter out tweets from certain types of accounts – spammy ones in this case – it’s hard to ignore a tweet that might take up your entire page. To give you an idea about what spammers can work with, we played around with line breaks and found that by typing in one letter per line you could take up to 70 lines for that single tweet. To put the size of the tweet into perspective, our screen can view just 33 lines.
Line breaks however don’t appear to apply to embedded tweets just yet.
We’ve reached out to Twitter to find out about the decision behind rolling out line breaks, and we’ll update this article with any response.