Twitter users hungry for a few more characters to make their brilliant zing come to life —without sacrificing grammar and spelling — should be super happy. A new report in Bloomberg says that the company is planning to make a change in the way characters are counted — but, no worries, nothing will change with the gold-standard 140 limit. The result, though, would still give Twitter users the ability to craft longer messages.
The way Twitter will manage this, according to Bloomberg, is by no longer counting pictures or links as a part of the character limit. At present, any link or picture requires 23 characters — the length that Twitter shortened them to automatically. Now, those characters won't count against you. There's no word on when the change will take affect; Bloomberg's source did not want to be named and there has been no official statement from the company.
Back in January, the CEO of the company, Jack Dorsey, tweeted out that the company would be looking into new ways to display text. Often people take screenshots of longer articles or tweet many times in a row to tell a whole story, but that can limit the utility of the text — especially screenshots. If text were text, as Dorsey proposed at the time, it could be copied, searched, and highlighted.
Dorsey said that the he loves the brevity of 140 characters and the creativity it inspires, but that's not the company's purpose. He said, "What makes Twitter, Twitter is its fast, public, live conversational nature. We will always work to strengthen that." He added that the majority of tweets will be short anyway, even if it's not a requirement.
So then this could be the first step in that change. Twitter users had a mix of reactions Monday night and Tuesday morning after the news broke:
The original limit came about because Twitter messages were shared via text message, which were limited to 160 characters. Now that messages are sent via the web or app, that shouldn't affect users. In fact, updates to the service show messages in an order decided by an algorithm, not chronologically, meaning that tweet storms are often displayed out of order. Longer tweets would solve this.
Last June the direct message — or DM — feature had its limit lengthened to 10,000 characters, essentially doing away with the constraints for private messages between users.
The real question is whether these changes have an affect on Twitter's user base, growth has stalled, driving down the company's value. Perhaps an additional 23 characters will help draw people in.