Twitter may expand 140-character limit

You may be about to post longer, much longer, tweets

Twitter may be getting ready to allow tweets with more than 140 characters. A lot more.

Re/Code and other sites reported today that Twitter is working on a feature that will give users a 10,000-character limit. The social media company reportedly is looking to launch it by the end of the first quarter.

The report also stated that Twitter would look much the same as it does now, with a maximum of 140 characters showing in a tweet. However, users would be able to click on something inside the tweet to reveal more text.

The 10,000 number isn't firm and could change once the feature is released.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

Industry analysts are unsure how this move would go over with users, but it's clear that Jack Dorsey, who became Twitter's CEO again this past fall, needs to boost the company's user growth, as well as its bottom line.

"This is the million-dollar question for Twitter," said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. "Should they change their brand identity in order to chase growth or stick to their guns and find other ways? And 140 characters is just an arbitrary number. However, since Twitter's founding, 140 characters has been what it's all about."

Kagan added that he doesn't think users are clamoring for more characters to use in their tweets. If users have more to say, they simply tweet several times.

"I hope Twitter doesn't screw around with the meaning of their brand," he added. "There are many ways to make changes to increase revenues. Don't change who you are."

However, Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said the change could be a positive move that shakes things up for Twitter and its users.

"Done right, it could increase both popularity and revenue," Enderle said in an email to Computerworld. "I expect they will make a change but not a big enough one to muddy their identity."

Twitter needs to make sure it doesn't expand tweets to the point that the site becomes a secondary Facebook. If that happens, Twitter would lose its uniqueness and become a redundant site.

The question is whether users are frustrated by Twitter's character limit and use the site less because of it. Or is the fact that tweets are brief nuggets of information what keeps users coming back?

"Brevity is the soul of Twitter, so you want to encourage people to keep it short, but running up against the hard limit is frustrating," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "They probably have done user testing and discovered that the frustration of hitting the 140-character wall is affecting user loyalty."

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