Twitter’s new 280-character limit not enough? Now the social media platform supports longer display names, too. On Friday, November 10, Twitter announced support for display names up to 50 characters in length, with the platform inviting users to add middle names or even emojis. Yay, right? Not so fast.
The change was met with mixed response from users, who tweeted that Twitter’s efforts would be better spent elsewhere. The social network has ongoing efforts against online harassment, Russian political ads muddy user feeds, and Twitter is updating the verification process after giving the badge to the organizer behind a white supremacist rally.
While a username (which starts with the @ symbol and is limited to 15 characters) identifies your URL, Twitter display names show up on your profile and before your tweets. The username can be edited inside of the profile options, making it easy for users that always wanted to include that Ph.D. and middle name and surname inside their display name to go in and add it with the expanded character limit.
Starting today, your Twitter display name can be up to 50 characters in length! Go ahead, add that middle name or even a few more emojis. https://t.co/QBxx9Hnn1j
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 10, 2017
The change comes just after Twitter officially doubled the character limit earlier this week. The added space to tweet those thoughts arrived after Twitter made more minor changes to the character limit by excluding attachments and links and, later, usernames when tweeting a reply.
While the expanded display name character count might be good news if you happen to have a name like Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea (A Dr. Seuss character that, by the way, is still only 29 characters), some are using the expanded feature instead to speak out on other changes the network could be making.
Some users are adding hashtags to their display names, including #WouldPreferThatYouBanNazis, in response to Twitter’s verification of Jason Kessler’s account earlier this week. Kessler is the organizer behind a white supremacist rally that left one person dead and injured 19 others in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier in 2017. The blue verification badge, Twitter says, “lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded saying that company realized the verification process needed to be updated some time ago, but will now work to correct the process faster. Until then, Twitter has temporarily suspended the process of verifying accounts.
We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered. And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster. https://t.co/wVbfYJntHj
— jack (@jack) November 9, 2017
Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 9, 2017
Other users took advantage of the longer display name to put their requests in for other platform features, like an edit button, while other users decided to turn their display names into entire sentences.
Twitter has long been a platform focused on brevity and microblogging, and both the updated character limit and longer usernames come as the social media platform continues refining standards after #WomenBoycottTwitter called attention to harassment issues on the platform. Twitter is also one of the social media platforms alongside Facebook that is working to update policies for political ads.
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