Kurt Wagner for Re/code:
"Twitter is building a new feature that will allow users to tweet things longer than the traditional 140-character limit, and the company is targeting a launch date toward the end of Q1, according to multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. Twitter is currently considering a 10,000 character limit, according to these sources."
I figure that you won’t see 10,000-character long mega tweets on your feed as they are - that would be crazy - but with a “read more” button like Facebook has.
Here’s CEO Jack Dorsey on how this makes sense within the context of their product:
"We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it.
Instead, what if that text…was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power."
Looks to me the core product doesn’t change, so I say more power to this move. But what about Medium, which was initially created to bypass Twitter’s character limit?
I still don’t understand it, and I understand it less hearing news like this. Don’t get me wrong - there are many brilliant pieces on Medium, many great minds, and great tools (e.g. commenting on specific quotes and highlighting) - and I suppose to us that’s all that really matters. It’ll be interesting to see how users of both platforms will continue to blog from this point on.
Back to Wagner’s piece:
"The design aspect is key. Making Tweets bigger by adding more content or bigger pictures has diminished user engagement in the past, according to one source. That makes sense. If tweets take a long time to consume or take up more space on your screen, it’s likely that you’ll view (and engage with) fewer of them. So Twitter is trying to add more content without disrupting the way you currently scroll through your timeline."
I personally condone these ‘add-ons’ to a tweet’s 140 characters, from adding photos and videos - which were useful for screenshotting quotes from articles when I’d link to them, until now, that is - to commenting on retweets. They enhance the Twitter experience rather than detract from it.
But I agree that at a certain point, user experience and engagement can diminish, and I’m confident that Jack Dorsey is aware of that limit. Back to his tweet:
"It’s become a beautiful constraint (the 140-character limit), and I love it! It inspires creativity and brevity. And a sense of speed. We will never lose that feeling."
Dorsey’s awareness of his product is a stark contrast to the predatory megalodon that is Facebook. I could see Twitter drastically increasing the character limit taking away some control from Facebook over publications, all while still maintaining what makes Twitter such a great social network. (Emphasis on “some” as I doubt it’ll be that easy.)