It was back in the third week of May when the rumours were flying round that Twitter was about to do a make over of its 140-character limit for each tweet posted. There was no specific date for when the new policy was to start, but the feeling was that if the reports were true, it should happen this year.
Now, an exclusive report from the The Verge is saying that September 19th, barely a week from today, is the day the new policy would come into effect.
According to the reports, which The Verge claim it got from sources who have a working knowledge of how things work in Twitter, the actual number of characters would not be much more than 140; and like the reports back in May purported, certain variables that make up a whole tweet have been removed as part of the actual character count.
For instance, the name of the user would not form part of the 140 characters; so also are media like video, GIF and audio. Also links added to a tweet would not be part of the 140 characters.
If you are a good Twitter user, the next exercise would not be hard for you to accomplish: just close your eyes for a moment, imagine how many extra characters you can cramp into a single tweet with this new development? Yes, you got it right, not a lot.
Does Twitter imagine this is the change users were hoping for?
The key to this so-called change in Twitter goes back to the mindset of Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. He is so hung-up about the idea of sticking to tradition he won’t budge even in the face of strong pleas from users of Twitter. As far as he is concerned, the 140-character tweet that made Twitter what it is today must remain to give it that constant unique identity.
I guess he doesn’t care that one thing that is constant is change. Nobody is asking him to do a radical thing like sell Twitter or change the name; just make it possible for people to be able to post longer twits like it is done in other social forums.
Jack Dorset’s obsession with the status quo can be so absurd he can afford to sanction changes that don’t really mean much to users just to give the impression of doing all he can to make Twitter relevant.
Recently, these changes or updates to Twitter have being coming thick and fast in a bid to attract more users and stimulate growth.
One of the latest updates was to the Moments feature in Twitter. Moments, before the tweak, used to be restricted to public figures who were very active in Twitter and have a large number of Twitter followers. The update saw the service open to everybody.
Another recent update had to do with the allowable bandwidth of each GIF file posted on Twitter by users. What used to be just a mere 5MB was increased to 15MB. That was to ensure users didn’t have to waste time editing GIFs to suit the 5MB limit before posting it. I am sure that was very useful to a lot of people.
And two months ago, Twitter made it possible for all account holders to get verified Twitter accounts if they wished. This was to give a sort of prestige to accounts that got certified. Like Moments, only the rich and famous with active Twitter accounts had verified Twitter accounts before the update.
All these updates from Twitter was just skirting the issue of what users really wanted: the ability to make long posts without going through the stress of converting the long posts into images and posting them as a single media file.
The fact that people many users have to resort to posting images as tweets to get round the 140-charcter limit should have told Dorsey and his crew that users really need that 140-character limit cancelled.
For now though, users just have to manage with the few more allowable characters to come into effect from the 19th, all things being equal. But I can bet all that is dear to me that sooner or later, the 140-charcter limit would be dropped.
image credit: theodysseyonline.com; businessfinancenews.com; eonline.com; gsmarena.com