Although born out of necessity dating back to its SMS-based origins, Twitter's 140-character message limit has become a defining aspect of the service and remained in place long after the technological limitations were nullified. Based on new reports this week, however, that may soon change.
Re/code's Kurt Wagner first reported Tuesday that Twitter is considering significantly upgrading the 140-character limit for public tweets to a much larger 10,000-character limit, the same that the company introduced for direct messages last August. The move, referred to internally as "Beyond 140," is reportedly still in testing, and may roll out as a series of incremental increases in character limit before ultimately hitting 10,000.
To avoid making the service unwieldy, sources suggest that Twitter's main interface will still only display the first 140 characters of text for each message, with users able to click to expand longer messages in order to see the complete text.
While Twitter has not commented officially on the reports, co-founder Jack Dorsey, who returned to the company as CEO in October, tweeted a lengthy block of text -- in image form -- late Tuesday, with a message that seemingly confirms the rumors.
We've spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it. Instead, what if that text...was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That's more utility and power...
We're not 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.
Although still popular, Twitter has struggled to grow both its user base and revenue under multiple CEOs, and recent changes to the service such as the introduction of "Moments" and "Likes" haven't taken hold. While workarounds for the 140-character limit already exist, Twitter's plans to give users more flexibility with their tweets may return some excitement to the service.
Longtime Twitter users may be more hesitant about the change, however, as the current character limit requires tweets to be succinct, and makes the platform unique among today's social communication services. The move to a 10,000 character limit may also introduce concerns about spamming and abuse, and it's not yet clear how Twitter may handle such situations.