As Twitter nears its 10th birthday this March, there’s been plenty of buzz about one of the social media platform’s most recognizable features: the 140-character limit.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (@jack) sent out a not-so-subtle tweet on Tuesday that included a picture with his stream of consciousness on the character topic.
“We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it,” he said. “Instead, what if that text … was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.”
He went on to say that the current 140-character limit wasn’t necessarily created as a restriction, but it seems to have “become a beautiful restraint.” Sources say the limit could grow to 10,000, as is Twitter’s direct messages limit.
This statement, understandably, created an abundance of theories and thoughts on the topic, many using the hashtag #Twitter10K to voice their opinions, including celebrities like Katie Couric and brands including Vevo.
Most people want to avoid this heavy increase in the character limit for 2 main reasons: it will “flood” timelines on integrated channels, and it will rid of the quick, quip-ness of the platform. Twitter is known for its to-the-point updates, while Facebook is slowly becoming the channel for short blogs and rambling and rants. Twitter has taught us how to keep things to a minimum, and opening the doors to essay-length posts would surely change everything about the platform and how we use it. Anyone with a smartphone and a Twitter account can boast themselves as a journalist – the implications of a 10,000 character limit on this notion alone are downright scary.
When news breaks out, or a trending hashtag comes to light, we go to Twitter for fast updates. Imagine following along at the next Apple conference, steadily waiting for the announcement of a new feature, like an updated camera. Instead, you have to wait for someone to write 2,000 words on the topic because the new norm has changed the way we tweet.
Another platform-changing argument that has made its way to the forefront is that of adding an “edit” button to Twitter. Most of us just want to be able to make a quick spelling error edit here and there, but it could also completely shatter the integrity of the platform. Could users essentially “take back” what they said many years ago by editing their tweets? Could mistakes be undone without an apology since the original posts could be changed? An edit button would become another problem entirely on its own.
There’s no way to tell whether or not we’ll be editing or tweeting posts with limits longer than college essays until we hear again from Dorsey this March, but for now we’ll have to stick to 140 characters.