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Twitter makes it easier to rant by making tweetstorms an official feature

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 12, 2017

This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
Washington Post

If you have a Twitter rant you really need to get off your chest, then it’s your lucky day.

Twitter announced Tuesday that it’s adding a tool that makes it easy to thread tweets together, giving users more space for thoughtful commentary, unhinged rants and everything in between. The move builds on the company’s recent decision to abandon its traditional 140-character count for 280 characters to allow people more room per tweet – even as the social network struggles to clarify its policies on what is appropriate conduct on Twitter.

The company said in a blog post that it was inspired to create the tool based on what users were already doing. “At Twitter, we have a history of studying how people use our service and then creating features to make what they’re doing easier. The Retweet, @reply, and hashtag are examples of this,” product manager Sasank Reddy wrote.

While Twitter users could already make threads – often called “tweetstorms” – on the social network, the process was not particularly intuitive. You had to reply to yourself to get tweets to show up together in a line. The new tool lets you click on a plus sign to add another tweet to one that you’re composing. Once you’re done with your manifesto, you can tweet everything at once. You can also continue adding to the thread after it’s been published.

Things are also getting easier from the reader’s side. If someone has made a threaded tweet, you can click or tap on a new option called “Show this thread” to see everything at once.

The new threading tool will roll out to all users in the “coming weeks,” Reddy said. It will be available on Twitter’s apps for iOS and Android, and on the company’s website.

The product changes are part of Twitter’s effort to address concerns that its network is difficult to use, which analysts have said is one reason why it’s not picking up users as quickly as investors would like. Threads help make the river of tweets in users’ timelines more navigable, and also allow the company to play to its strengths as a source for breaking news and commentary.

But Twitter is also in the midst of tackling deeper problems, such as harassment and social conduct on the network, and those aren’t going to be addressed by simply giving people more room to express themselves. Twitter has repeatedly fielded criticism from its users after product changes for not addressing the cultural problems. The firm has made moves to increase transparency around advertising, clarify its rules about what violates its terms and conditions and is changing its criteria for verifying users.

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