Twitter is considering a huge change to its core product, according to a new report from Recode. The company may soon ditch its iconic 140 character tweet limit in favour of a greatly expanded 10,000 character limit, says the publication, citing multiple unnamed sources within the publicly traded company.
There’s currently no exact date for when this change will begin to roll out to users, though Recode estimates we could see tweets that employ the new limit as soon as the end of this quarter.
Twitter’s current implementation of the new character limit employs a timeline that looks a lot like the one users are familiar with today: there’s an initial 140 character limit to each and every tweet, but a new button allows the user to expand one if it takes advantage of the new limit.
The idea here is to allow the platform to display more information without disrupting its current flow. The fear is that displaying too many overly long tweets will cause users to spend less time on the platform overall, leading to decreased engagement across the board. On the flip side, its original 140-character limit was put in place to ensure Tweets could fit into a 160-character text message, which sustained the platform during the pre-smartphone days of 2006.
As Recode notes, what’s significant about this news is not the fact that Twitter is ditching one of its most iconic features; instead, what’s important here is that Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and recently reinstated CEO, and the rest of the company is willing to fundamentally rethink what Twitter is as a platform. It’s something Twitter will need to do if it’s going to restart growth and become a profitable company.
Update: Jack Dorsey has all but confirmed his company is deciding whether to drop the 140 character tweet limit. In what amounts to a long tweet, the CEO responded to concerns over the possibility of tweets getting longer. “We didn’t start Twitter with a 140 character restriction. We added that early on to fit into a single SMS message (160 characters),” says the statement, which Dorsey shared as a screenshot. “We’re not going to be shy about building more utility into Twitter for people. As long as it’s consistent with what people want to do, we’re going to explore it.”
— jack⚡️ (@jack) January 5, 2016