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Anatomy of a tweet – 140 character mystery August 15, 2009

Posted by Anand Mallaya in computers, internet, social media, technology.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Everybody tweets now-a-days. Even cats tweet(@sockongton). A tweet is a burst of 140 characters from all those interesting ‘characters’ around the globe, describing ‘what they are are doing’. I wonder why just 140 characters. why not 130 or 150. So I started digging and the search lead me to check the technical anatomy of a tweet. And it gave some interesting facts about twitter. I will put the tweet anatomy examination report.

  • Number of charactr in a tweet is 140
  • Total content length(XHR request) when a tweet is 140 exactly(maximum length) – 262
  • Minimum content length(XHR request) when a tweet is one char long – 107
  • Meaning XHR header content length is 106 byte- a constant

So I checked for an answer with twitter API response

We can check a users’ status using User/show APIhttp://twitter.com/users/show.xml?screen_name=anandcv

The response is an xml file( given below is the response of my user id @anandcv when my last tweet was 140 char long)

Twitter user/show API respone

Twitter user/show API respone

Ther response got an interesting field in the status – <truncated>false</truncated>.

Probably a remainder of early implementation, which allowed more than 140 characters. Currently twitter web interface allows only 140 chars.

The other fields are

<created_at></created_at> – the time stamp
<id></id>  – the unique message id
<text></text> – the tweet itself
<source></source> – source of the tweet (from web or other tools etc..)
<in_reply_to_status_id/> – Replying to some tweet?
<in_reply_to_user_id/> –  Replying to somebody user id?
<favorited>false</favorited> – favorited?
<in_reply_to_screen_name/> – screen name of the user.

No clues yet. The search continues…

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