News of social media giant, Twitter, considering a 10k-character limit for their famous Tweets was met with plenty of outcry when it was reported by Recode on January 5, Tuesday. Once implemented, it will allow users to enter more than the usual 140 characters to their posts. According to Recode’s sources, there’s no set date yet of when Twitter would launch the new feature, but the company aims to have it ready before the first quarter of 2016 ends.
— Jack (@jack) January 5, 2016
In CEO Jack Dorsey’s official Twitter post, he explains how this change would ultimately be for the best because then the longer texts in Tweets would have “more utility and power”. But Twitter lovers beg to differ. Would this update lead to ruin or success?
Quick Recap: Twitter Changes Through the Years
Aside from controversies (such as Dick Costolo’s takeover of the CEO position and his eventual resignation), Twitter as a company has indeed gone far from its humble beginnings. 2014 and 2015 for instance, were crucial years as these were when the beloved social media platform released the most updates like the Instant Timeline, While You Were Away, Quality Filter, Curator, and Moments.
Apart from on-site changes, Twitter has also enjoyed creative input from its own users. As subscribers grew and people yearned to express thoughts within the 140-character limit, they eventually came up with unique methods of communication – such as the hashtag (#) – exclusive to Twitter.
When the company acquired Vine in 2012, users were able to quickly and easily attach short 6-second clips to their Tweets, making posts more interactive and fun. Dorsey certainly didn’t make a mistake when he first pitched the idea to then CEO Costolo, saying that this “constrained media would be the perfect complement to constrained text”.
Of course, who could forget Twitter’s most recent notorious update in November 2015: switching stars to hearts. Thousands of subscribers took to the platform to vent out their frustration with the update. Some even went as far as developing a Chrome extension just to avoid pink hearts from appearing on their Timelines.
Now that the social media giant is once again on the spotlight for wanting to create a HUGE change within their system, what could this mean for the company AND its loyal users?
Beyond 140 Pros and Cons
If you’re anything like the thousands of active Twitter users, you’re probably against this impending update. However, it pays to look at both sides of the coin before laying judgment on the entire issue.
For those using Facebook, you’re already familiar with how some of your friends are utilizing the platform’s high character limit for, well, pretty much anything: from rants about their jobs to long nostalgic greetings. While most people are not keen into reading walls of texts, others do enjoy these 60k-character posts (63,206 characters to be more precise). These lengthy statuses on several occasions have even served as discussion boards for broad topics like politics and commerce.
Should Twitter go ahead with the character increase, users will no doubt have more room to express sentiments. If say, someone writes an unfair review of your product, you can easily defend your side using the 10,000 characters instead of linking to a blog post.
Another positive side to this change is that it will definitely come in handy during emergency situations. Short Tweets may seem vague and could be misinterpreted. A 10k-character limit would give you more room to state what happened to you, where you are, and how you can be reached.
In this aspect, the company could establish itself ahead – if not at par – with its greatest rival: Facebook. The update that users are dreading about the platform is what its competitor is leveraging to attract more subscribers, get investors, and earn revenue. Despite its philanthropic vision, Twitter after all, is still a business.
Of course, the biggest drawback once this change is implemented would be the loss of Twitter’s unique personality as a social media website.
Let’s face it: although there are probably other networking websites out there, Twitter is still the fastest platform when it comes to worldwide trends. This 140-character limit has not only spawned creativity, it has a newspaper headline vibe to it that lets people in on current news without having to read walls of unnecessary text.
In fact, in an article by D.T. Max in New Yorker, Jack Dorsey himself has cited that “Twitter is about moving words…”, an “R.S.S. for S.M.S.”. From this, users were able to develop their own language and methods of communication, eventually leading to the Twitter we know and love today.
One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters.
— Jack (@jack) February 9, 2007
Perhaps one of the main issues the company still has not addressed is the lack of editing capability for published Tweets. Although this can be attributed to being unable to edit sent SMS messages (which is Twitter’s inspiration), maybe the firm should take advantage of its online platform instead of treating itself as an actual Short Message Service.
There’s also the issue that users’ Timelines could fill up fast. Dorsey however, assures loyal subscribers that this will not happen as the company wants to retain its speed and brevity in delivering messages. Twitter’s move to explore shaky territory cannot be ignored as possibly a sign towards appeasing investors. Not only does the platform need to increase its market share, they are also being pressured into becoming a good advertising platform.
**To join the discussions, follow posts with hashtags #beyond140 and #Twitter10k.
Looking into the Future
Changes are indeed scary.
As human beings, we’re more in tune with things that are familiar to us. Just like people we have come to know and love, we automatically feel agitated when products and services that have been a part of our lives suddenly change – or disappear. However, we can’t avoid the fact that change IS nature.
Remember the uproar when Twitter exchanged stars to hearts? That entire hullabaloo is now gone, and users seem to have adjusted pretty well to the change. Reuters reported that there’s already 20 percent positive sentiments about the 10k-character update – more than when news about it first broke out. Who knows? Perhaps what happened to the stars issue would apply to this change as well. We are highly versatile and adaptable creatures, after all.
It’s also good to note that although Twitter is considering this change – and has experimented on this since 2015 – it’s still in the works. This means that the company may later decide on something else.
We all love our social media channels and would honestly want them to stay as they are. Unfortunately, as change is inevitable, we can’t really stop updates from happening. Whether this is for the better or not, the only thing we can do at this point is to look towards the future.