Late last year, Twitter announced that it would be experimenting with changes to the order in which tweets appear, sorting them by ‘relevance’ as opposed to the traditional reverse chronological order. It also made changes to the much used ‘favourite’ button, replacing it with a heart symbol to represent ‘likes’. Both of these changes sparked huge debate amongst Twitter users, but nothing seems to have caused as much controversy as the social network’s latest announcement regarding changes to the defining 140 character limit.
As part of these changes, users would be able to post tweets of up to 10,000 characters, potentially transforming the Twitter experience as we know it. Known for short, snappy thoughts and insights, many people fear that expanding the limit by such an extraordinary amount could completely alter the core principal of a tweet, eradicating the defining feature which sets it apart from other platforms. With fears regarding loss of individuality and spam posts, many have been quick to criticize the reported plans, however, it is far too early to gauge what kind of impact (if any) this change will have.
While it’s only natural for social media to react with a ‘the sky is falling’ mentality upon hearing what, at first, sounds like a complete overhaul of the traditional Twitter format, on closer inspection, the changes seem far less drastic than sensationalized headlines make them sound. Fears regarding spam and ‘clogged’ feeds for example, are apparently misplaced, due to the fact these longer tweets would appear in an unexpanded format, prompting readers to ‘click for more’. In fact, it is possible that this new, longer format could even do something to ease twitter spam, by removing the need for Tweetstorms in ‘rant’ situations. As opposed to being forced to scroll through endless snippets of an individual’s 1 of 7 Twitter rant, it would instead, give you the choice as to whether or not you would like to continue reading.
Overall, the process doesn’t seem like a move intended to completely alter Twitter in its current form, although it does seem like another step towards making Twitter a more inclusive experience. It would likely remove the need for third party tools such as ‘TwitLonger’, and would give you less need to click out to other sites in order to view additional content. In the same way as Twitter Cards allow you to view images, play audio/video and sign up for mailing lists etc. from within Twitter, it is possible this new format would allow you to blog/share views directly to the social network, removing the need to link from another blogging platform or article.
While those who have managed to perfect their impactful yet concise tweeting method will see this as an alteration which somehow devalues the purpose of the platform, it is likely from the sound of early plans that the social network, at least visually, will appear in the same format that it always has. Although the way in which people use Twitter may alter over time in response to these changes, most would agree that a 10,000 character limit won’t mean essays of emojis and life-stories pervading your feed. Whether people will stick to the ‘standard’ tweet or not is impossible to tell, but it will be interesting to monitor how this development will impact the way in which digital marketing experts and casual users approach the platform.