Twitter looks to extend text limit of 140 characters

Twitter appears ready to loosen its decade-old restriction on the length of messages in a bid to make its service more appealing to a wider audience accustomed to the greater freedom offered by Facebook and other forums.

CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey telegraphed Twitter’s intentions in a tweet after the technology news site Re/Code reported the company is exploring increasing its limits on text from 140 characters to as many as 10,000.

Dorsey didn’t directly address the Re/Code report that cited unnamed people, but he made it clear that Twitter isn’t married to the 140-character limit. He illustrated his point by posting a screenshot of a text consisting of 1,325 characters.

If Twitter were to allow tweets to span 10,000 characters, it could produce 1,700-word dissertations, based on the size of Dorsey’s extended post.

San Francisco-based Twitter declined to comment on its plans.

In his message, Dorsey wrote that Twitter has already noticed that many of its roughly 300m users already have been including screenshots of lengthy texts in their tweets. He indicated Twitter is examining ways to give people more room to express themselves without ‘polluting’ the service.

Imposing some restraint “inspires creativity and brevity. And a sense of speed. We will never lose that feeling,” Dorsey said.

At the same time, Dorsey said Twitter isn’t “going to be shy about building more utility and power into Twitter for people. As long as it’s consistent with what people want to do, we’re going to explore it”.

Analysts said Dorsey is probably trying to avoid a backlash among long-time Twitter users who consider the 140-character tweeting limit sacred. At the same time, he needs to respond to company shareholders pining for a bigger audience that would generate more advertising revenue.

More revenue eventually could help Twitter turn a profit for the first time in its history.

Twitter can’t afford “to become stagnant, they need to get bigger if they want to build a more relevant advertising platform,” said Topeka Capital Markets analyst Blake Harper.


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