Twitter 10,000-character limit: Genius or suicide?

The tech world is abuzz today with reports that Twitter is considering raising it’s meager 140-character maximum for tweets…to 10,000 characters. Whether or not such a move will add value or attract users is entirely a function of how Twitter presents it and integrates the new maximum into the traditional Twitter feed. If it fails to package and sell it properly, though, it could be a suicidal move for the social networking giant.

Rumors are flying that Twitter is considering scrapping the iconic 140-character limit on tweets—possibly expanding it well into the thousands. A Re/Code story quoting anonymous sources suggests Twitter could raise the limit as high as 10,000. The problem Twitter faces is that it risks surrendering the unique thing that makes it Twitter. Without that differentiation it may be overshadowed by other social network platforms that do the same thing better.

10,000 characters is a lot. Here is some perspective for you. I just finished writing an article that was 602 words. It is nine paragraphs long and occupies about a page-and-a-half of a standard Microsoft Word page. It is only 3,796 characters long—including the spaces. A 10,000-character max would essentially mean that a “tweet” could amount to a 3-page, 1,500-word novella.

To be fair—Twitter isn’t necessarily planning to fill your Twitter feed with 10,000-character posts. According to Re/Code:

“Twitter is currently testing a version of the product in which tweets appear the same way they do now, displaying just 140 characters, with some kind of call to action that there is more content you can’t see. Clicking on the tweets would then expand them to reveal more content. The point of this is to keep the same look and feel for your timeline, although this design is not necessarily final, sources say.”

OK. That at least would be something. I love Twitter, but I have to admit that 140 characters does sometimes feel a bit too restrictive. It has certainly led to many creative abbreviations and grammar structures to try and distill a complete thought down to its 140 most essential characters.

That said, the succinct brevity of tweets on Twitter is essentially what makes Twitter unique. There are already competing platforms and social networks out there that fill the void for longer posts. Facebook comes to mind. Medium is a great example of a platform where contributors can craft essays and long-form articles. Can Twitter be a better Facebook than Facebook, or a better Medium than Medium? Can Twitter evolve into a new Twitter that basically mimics Facebook or Medium and still maintain some element that provides unique value?

If Twitter scraps the 140-character limit in some sort of desperate Hail Mary move to attract new users, it may very well backfire. By abandoning the one thing that makes Twitter unique it risks surrendering its relevance as well.

See the full story on Forbes: Twitter Plan To Abandon 140-Character Limit Is Risky Proposition.

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