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Twitter Goes Way Beyond 140 Characters

Users can view snippets of articles within tweets from NY Times, Wall St. Journal
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Twitter is the new RSS feed (only normal people actually use it). It's a cliched line—and one that can be applied to Facebook as well as Twitter—but the San Francisco-based social network took things a step further on Wednesday (June 13) by rolling out a new feature which allows users to check out some of the content behind a tweeted link without being pulled out of Twitter.

Now when someone tweets with a link to a BuzzFeed article, for example, users of Twitter’s desktop and mobile sites can click on a “View summary” link affixed to that tweet to see the article’s headline, byline and some intro text. 

In addition to BuzzFeed, initial partners include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, MSNBC’s Breaking News, The San Francisco Chronicle, TMZ, Der Spiegel Online, BET, Lifetime, Dailymotion and WWE. The list of big media names would seem to indicate that publishers are confident that providing more content within tweets will bolster, not siphon away, traffic from their own sites.

Twitter's tweet content expansion isn’t limited to just articles. Users will also be able to view photos or play videos within tweets containing those links. So if @DailymotionUSA tweets something about a man and his kitten walking into a strip club, users can find out what the hell they’re talking about by clicking “View media” to watch the linked video without a new window or tab opening.

However, as of Wednesday evening there appeared to be some glitches in whether the expanded tweets containing photo or videos actually worked. For example, WWE tweeted a few links to pages containing videos, but when expanded those tweets only show the corresponding page’s headline, intro text and a photo thumbnail.

The expanded tweet feature is currently limited to Twitter's desktop and mobile sites, but the company said it will eventually roll out to its iPhone and Android apps. Twitter’s iPad app actually includes more functionality than the expanded Tweet feature. When those users select a tweet containing a link, the app pulls up the entire corresponding Web page, without the need for publishers to specially partner with Twitter.

Twitter has been building out its content experience so that users aren’t only presented with a 140-character, text-heavy reading experience. Last month Twitter announced a partnership with NASCAR which established a unique hashtag designed to serve as a content destination.