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Twitter officially recognizes tweetstorms with a new threads feature

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Time for some game theory

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A few months after being spotted in tests, Twitter’s tool for creating tweestorms is now an official part of the app. Threads, as the company is calling them, let you string together tweets by tapping a new plus button in the tweet composer. “A few weeks ago, we expanded our character count to make it easier for people to fit what they’re thinking into a Tweet,” the company said in a blog post. “But we know people also may want to serialize a longer story or thought, or provide ongoing commentary on an event or topic. That’s where this update to threads comes in!”

If you post a thread, the first tweet will appear in the timeline as normal, along with up to two more tweets from the thread. To see the rest, your followers will need to tap “show this thread.”

As the company acknowledged in its blog post, threads are only the latest user-created feature to become official products within the app. It follows the retweet, the @ mention, and the hashtag, among others. Threads as we know them have been possible ever since 2014, when Twitter began linking replies to originating tweets. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen began threading enthusiastically soon afterward, and some have called him “the father of the tweetstorm.” The form rose to new prominence in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when it became a platform for longer-form discussion of current events.

Twitter says “hundreds of thousands of threads” are posted daily. The need for an official thread feature has been apparent for years: third-party developers have been building apps to thread tweets since at least 2008.

To create a thread using the new feature, type your first tweet and then hit the plus button in the lower right-hand corner of the composer. That brings up a new area within the composer where you’ll have another 280 characters to express yourself. Repeat the process until your thread is complete, and then hit “tweet,” and the entire thread will post all at once. If you want to update a thread later, open it and hit “add another tweet” in the thread.

Threads have both critics and champions. Regardless of what you think, it’s hard to deny that threads have become a literary form unto themselves in the past few years. Whether it’s Eric Garland’s famous “time for some game theory” post-election analysis last year, or this man’s impassioned plea for sex education, memorable tweetstorms use Twitter’s arbitrary constraints to create a certain kind of rhythm. The critics still yell, “Just write a blog post!” And yet — to my eyes, anyway — a good thread has a poetry to it that can’t be replicated in an essay written in standard-length paragraphs.

Threads will be rolling out on Android, iOS, and the web “in the coming weeks,” Twitter said.