Twitter is about to break the character limit wide open!

Steven Loeb · January 5, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4273

Reports now say the limit could be as high as 10,000, which is the same number users get in DMs

Ever since Jack Dorsey was named as the CEO of Twitter over the summer, even before taking over the role permanently in October, it has seemed as though nothing was sacred at the company. I got the distinct impression that anything and everything was on the table, if it meant that it would allow Twitter to once again grow its userbase.

Dorsey has made many moves to help make the service more palatable for a larger audience, but the most interesting thing were the reports saying the company was willing to break it's most defining feature: the traditional 140-character limit, which would allow Twitter users to publish long-form content to the service. 

Now some more details have emerged about what that might look like.

Twitter is going to introduce a longer character limit sometime around the end of the first quarter, according to what sources told Re/Code on Tuesday. 

The limit is apparently going to really high, too: up to 10,000 characters, which is more than 70 times what it is currently. As Re/Code pointed out, that's actually the same number of characters that Twitter allows for its Direct Messages. 

The other big question when these reports started rolling in was, what would this look like? Would these longer Tweets be incorporated into the timeline, or would they be an entirely separate service so they didn't interfere with the flow of the feed?

It looks like it's going to the former, with the Tweets showing up the same way they do currently, but with only part of them showing, and the option to expand them. That is currently how Facebook deals with longer posts, and it works well, especially since you are able to open them in separate tabs on desktop. 

Of course, none of these details are finalized yet, and could change. 

VatorNews reached out to Twitter for confirmation but a company spokesperson declined to comment. 

Changes at Twitter

Maybe such bold action will finally give Twitter the shot in the arm it need. The company has been languishing for a while, struggling to get its user numbers back up. And, right from the start Dorsey went into action, outlining "ambitious" and "bold" goals.

In addition to expanding the number of character,s the company has started experimenting with reordering the timeline as well. It also introduced Moments, a feature that is designed to curate content by aggregating Tweets and photos from live events and breaking-news situations.

In the third quarter call, Dorsey said that the feature " represents a real, fundamental shift in our thinking," one that makes it easier for new users to come onto Twitter without feeling intimidated or left out. 

Previously users had to "do a bunch of work to find the right accounts to follow," he said, but Moments allows them to "open it up and you can actually see everything that's happened in the world that's most meaningful," and which is organized by topic so that they can see "really unique insights and commentary the particular event that you're interested in."

"So it questions the reverse chronological timeline, provides a chronological narrative, a complete story that is human curated, that gives you much deeper insights and, at the same time, you don't have to do any of the work to find and follow accounts."

Beyond changes in features, Dorsey also attempted to reverse years of animosity between the company and developers by reaching out to them and asking them to come back to the platform. He also gave a third of his stock in the company, which amounts to $211 million, back to employees

Of course, turning Twitter around isn't going to be quite that simple, as evidenced by the company's falling stock price.

In August, the stock ended trading under $30 for the first time ever, and except for a few days in October, has never been able to come back up. Then, in December, the stock fell to its lowest point ever, dropping to $23.31 down 36 percent in a year.

The stock has continued to drop since then, going below $23, a number it still has not been able to clear since. The company had a $26 IPO price and debuted at $45 a share in November of 2013.   

With numbers like that, it's no wonder that Twitter is willing to change just about anything in order to survive.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.