Twitter could be upping its character limit from 140 to 10,000 characters. This change could be implemented as early as July. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey released a statement to share his thoughts on the social media platform’s character limit.
TL;DR – Twitter was designed to fit into SMS messages. But it turned out to be pretty rad that people were being creative in their brevity. However, people are putting images of SMS messages into tweets instead of the other way around, so why not just allow them to write more?
Of course, in order to post this tweet, Dorsey took a photo of his iOS notes. Irony much?
Dorsey also stated that it would be interesting to be able to search through and highlight texts within tweets. However, the 140 character limit requires users to be creative in communicating their ideas. He believes that the brevity is important and doesn’t want to “lose that feeling.”
I gotta agree with him there. Who hasn’t needed that extra minute to rewrite a tweet in order to get it to fit? Nobody, that’s who. There’s something fun about it. Perhaps it’s because we live in an age where people are using multiple screens and seek instant gratification through quick bits of information. Or perhaps we find great humor in a succinct one-liner. Whatever that may be, Twitter’s limit has always been at the very core of what Twitter is. What will happen when it’s removed?
Before we get into that, let’s consider why the 140 character limit is so great. The first thing that comes to mind is that live-tweeting anything would be more difficult. It’s always easier for the brain to process a list of bullet points than one long paragraph. For example, writer Sarah Gailey decided to live-tweet her experience watching the original Star Wars trilogy. By doing this in short format Tweets, readers gained a sense of time. They could watch her experience unfold live. Or if reading the tweet later, could still get a sense of where she was in the movie. Longer tweets might have truncated her thoughts, as strange at that sounds. By putting her thoughts into a longer format, we would have ended up with rambling opinions rather than her hilarious reactions.
Thanks to hashtags, fans can tweet together about their favorite topics. Or they can quickly spread news. In California, sometimes people learn about earthquakes before they feel them because people tweet out the news so quickly. The 140 limit forces us to get to the point. No rambling or navigating multiple paragraphs to understand the core of what’s being said.
So what could happen when allowed to write 75 times more content?
First and foremost, the higher limit will make direct messages a lot easier. Usually when you’re corresponding directly with someone, you have more to say than making a blanket statement to the public. The limit can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’re trying to coordinate details. For that, I welcome the change.
As for public tweets, I think the biggest change will be in the ability to tell stories, whether it be news or personal anecdotes. News ledes–the opening line of a news story that gives the basic who, what, when, and where–are great to draw a reader in, but then they have to link to a full story for more details. That’s all well and good for anyone trying to get page clicks. Longer tweets will allow us to get vital information out much faster, especially in times of an emergency. It can also help us discern fact from slant. It’s easy to get instantly upset over a disturbing news headline until we read the actual article or listen to a full statement. By expanding tweet length, it could help to remedy ignorant, knee-jerk reactions.
And then there are personal stories. Sometimes we can sum things up in one sentence, but a lot of times, the fun of telling a good story is in the setup and details. Details paint pictures of what’s happening around us. For example, here’s a tweet of mine:
It’s a story, but it leaves you wondering that actually unfolded on stage that made it so magical? A longer tweet limit would have allowed me share the story of exactly what happened to make it a special moment. People who file complaints with companies via twitter can also include more detailed information to help remedy their situations.
The big question is, will we change? It’s hard to say. I think people are so used to the short format that we will likely limit ourselves. It would be nice to get in a little more space when linking to an image or webpage, but do we really need much more? Do we really need 10,000 characters to communicate via Twitter when we have plenty of other mediums to do so? This post is only about 5000 characters. Do we really need, or even want, tweets that run on for pages and pages?
What do you think about this possibility? Let us know in the comments. And no, you don’t have to restrict yourself to 140 characters.
Featured image credit: someecards