October 2, 2015
In an effort to build its user base, Twitter is thinking about tweaking one of its signature features: the 140-character limit on tweets. Although the new feature is in the planning stages and no Twitter executive would comment on any new plan, the idea of going beyond 140 characters is no surprise, having been debated for many years. In June, the company overrode the 140-character limit on private messages, signaling an openness to new rules. Interim chief executive Jack Dorsey is seen as likely to endorse change.
The Wall Street Journal notes that products such as OneShot allow users to “tweet out blocks of text… but those are simply images, not actual text published on Twitter.” The ongoing internal discussion about whether or not to loosen the 140-character limit has also focused on how Twitter measures those characters. Some executives have openly debated removing links and user handles from the count, says WSJ.
Twitter has also done an end-run around character limits with Twitter Cards, which, although limited to 140 characters, are “intended to help people (and advertisers) share lots of information.” Twitter also added a “retweet with comment” option in April, as well as allowing more than 140 characters for private messages.
“Dorsey is apparently supportive of a potential change, a bold stance and yet another sign that he isn’t simply keeping the CEO seat warm until Twitter finds someone permanent,” says WSJ. (Reports this week have indicated that Dorsey is expected to be named Twitter’s permanent chief exec.)
Dorsey is focused on Twitter reaching a more mainstream audience, although whether lifting the 140-character limit would have that impact is unknown. Long-form publishing on Facebook and LinkedIn, notes WSJ, is a “power feature.” “As with all early products, there’s a chance the long-form feature may never make it to consumers,” it notes.