Twitter’s restrictions on the length of messages could come to an end soon.
The tradition that has been for a decade now is under threat to make the service more appealing to a wider audience, just like other social media like Facebook.
The company’s co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed the intentions of the microblogging organization through a tweet posted on Tuesday, just after Re/code reported the company is considering expanding its limit on texts from the current 140 characters to 10,000 characters. However, the limit is not just some supplementary feature of the service but the heart. Concision is what defines Twitter and distinguishes it from many other microblogging platforms. Traditionally, tweets can be carefully refined ideas, questions, or observations but cannot be lengthy dissertations.
The CEO said Twitter’s 140-character limit policy is not permanent. He demonstrated his point by posting a screenshot of a 1,325-character text. According to the post, if tweets were to extend to 10,000 characters, a 1,700-word essay could be produced. Twitter has noticed that many of its over 300 million users are already using lengthy messages in their tweets indirectly; these long texts are embedded in screenshots that they post. Dorsey said Twitter is contemplating on how to give its users more freedom of expression and at the same time keen not to spoil the service with gasbags. He pledged his company will not lose its identity, restrictions on the length of texts that instigates brevity and creativity.
Pressure heaping on CEO Jack Dorsey
The CEO is in fact at a crossroad following pressure from Twitter’s long-time users accustomed to the length restrictions and the company shareholders who are craving to make a profit. Dorsey is keen to avoid criticism from diehard Twitter users who consider the length limit untouchable and as well respond to the company stockholders’ hunger for a larger audience that would generate more ad revenue. As long as expansion of character limit is consistent with what people want, the company will not relent in its quest to make the service better, Dorsey said. Twitter will not be nervous about building new features, he added.
Twitter certainly needs to expand to compete with other advertising platforms. The utility enjoyed a long run of growth after its launch, becoming one of the most popular social media platforms. However, the company’s growth has deteriorated over the past one and half years lagging far much behind Facebook, which has 1.5 billion users. This unsatisfying performance triggered the departure of the then CEO Dick Costolo with one of the founders – Jack Dorsey – replacing him, last July. The former had already been expelled back in 2008. Dorsey is desperate to speed up user growth and is under intense pressure to take drastic measures towards the same. The company’s shares have dropped by 64 cents, a drop of 40 percent from their standing when he was ushered in.
Twitter’s 140-character limit outdated
Twitter was invented in 2006, a time when cell phones had a 160-character limit on messages, so the 140-character limit was to make it easy to use the service on those phones. The restriction was well thought then, however, with the introduction of smartphones, it looks obsolete. Smartphones right now have allowed sending lengthy texts through many other internet messaging services. Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities analyst, thinks Twitter can extend the limit of characters in a text without falling out with its current audience. He proposes that Twitter develops its system such that only a portion of the message with 140 characters appears, with an option to view the whole text.
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