The dreaded 140 character limit on Twitter.
How annoying is it when you have the perfect thing to say, but can’t say it because your message is 20 characters too long. Omitting the last sentence or cutting out words are not options; doing so would change the meaning of the message too much. While there exist ways to shorten the message through abbreviations or third-party products such as TwitLonger, the fact a workaround is necessary makes Twitter feel like a nuisance to many.
People have been complaining about the character limit for years, and for years Twitter has refused to do anything about it — but that may be about to change.
In a Recode report, sources from Twitter hinted at the possibility of a “new product” that would allow for longer posts. Twitter said they want to allow users and advertisers to share more information with others, and the change — though not set in stone as of yet — would allow people to feel more comfortable with the service.
Some of the ideas being tested right now include the exclusion of hashtags and URLs from the character limit, tweaks that would allow more room for actual text.
In June, Twitter removed the character cap on direct messages, and the change was well-received by users.
The possibility of longer tweets doesn’t appeal to everyone, however. Some afraid that expanding or removing the character limit of tweets may turn Twitter into a Facebook clone.
Twitter is extending the 140-character limit. Cool. I like that. But it mustn't be too long. We don't want Twitter to become Facebook.
— Phoebe Shafinaz (@PhoebeShafinaz) October 4, 2015
The Washington Post reports that Twitter’s character limit originated in 2006 when it was intended to be a text messaging chat service. The character limit makes more sense in this instance, since the developers expected it to be almost exclusively used on mobile devices. After all, who’s going to write an essay on their cell phone?
As time went on, Twitter evolved into a full-fledged microblogging service, where users could share their opinions and establish followings. It became relevant to use Twitter on the PC and other platforms, and not just mobile devices. Perhaps because it is what set it apart from other services, Twitter has been hesitant to adjust the character cap despite multiple calls to do so from their user base.
The fact Twitter is willing to look past this now suggests the company is confident it can maintain its originality while still evolving to address the growing needs of its users.
Recode quoted an unnamed senior executive as saying that Twitter’s interim CEO Jack Dorsey has been supportive of the idea.
People have been very precious at Twitter about what Twitter can be and how much it can be evolved. Having Jack come in and say it’s okay makes all the difference in the world.
Dorsey has been somewhat critical of other changes made by Twitter in recent months. This change, however, promises to make the service more appealing to individuals and businesses, and therefore has earned his support.