Why Twitter’s 10,000 Character Limit Is a Bad Idea

Why Twitter’s 10,000 Character Limit Is a Bad Idea

Why Twitter's 10,000 Character Limit Is a Bad Idea

Twitter is a great way to quickly share updates and links, and keep up to date with events happening, as they happen, around the world.

It’s Twitter in 140 characters. Twitter in 10,000 characters gets a bit complicated. Twitter has faced death and naysayers almost since its launch in 2006. But while Twitter hasn’t become as ubiquitous as the other social network, it’s far from over. The idea that tweets might not have the 140 character limit is something that seems to have touched a nerve for a lot of users, as it takes away from something unique to Twitter.

For many people, Twitter has become an invaluable business tool. Its real-time nature means it has been a key platform as news events unfold and develop. And due to the 140 characters, mostly text-based nature of Twitter, it has proven to be very useful when data speeds are limited or the internet is unreliable. Twitter is where you go when you want to know what’s going on.

This is something that is on display during emergencies such as the recent Chennai floods, where the ChennaiRains.org handle was one of the most trusted and up-to-date sources of help and information.

(Also see: Inside Chennairains.org and how technology has helped deal with disasters)

For news organizations, Twitter is an excellent source of information, but also a place to broadcast your own stories. Due to its open nature, sharing information on Twitter can be faster and reach a wider audience than expected. If something goes “viral”, its reach will very quickly exceed that of your own network.

And a lot of that can be attributed to the short word limits that are enforced on Twitter. The 140 character limit isn’t some kind of magic number – it was originally designed to accommodate the constraints of an SMS message, as many at the time used SMS to receive and post updates. day. But with these constraints come some benefits that make Twitter so appealing.


On the one hand, it imposed brevity – if you have to limit yourself to 140 characters, you will necessarily have to reduce the message to only the important parts. A brief summary and link, a quick emergency update, or an image and caption – these are all different ways Twitter can be helpful, but you have to choose and that means communication on the platform. -form was short and precise.

When Twitter first launched, it was known as a microblogging platform, not a social network, and with good reason. The early 2000s was when blogging was still huge, and everyone was sharing their .blogspot or .wordpress URLs via email (or on a yahoo group) – since you know, that was always the way you were talking about things to your friends.

Compared to long blog posts, tweets that quickly get the point across were a breath of fresh air. And we’ve learned a lot of workarounds to make it work even better, so you have tweetstorms from people you should learn to block, large text screenshots for people who need it, and that means that if you need to say something longer than 140 characters, you can do it quite easily.

At the same time, it does not affect the basic functionality of Twitter, nor does it change how users will behave on the platform. Remove the 140 character limit and officially support 10,000 character tweets? It’s a complete reversal of what Twitter is.


Over the years, Twitter has made various changes to the product, and these have rarely been welcomed by users. Just looking at the reaction on Twitter, it’s clear that a vocal subset doesn’t want the word limit changed.

Another example was removing stars, to “favorite” a tweet, and replacing them with hearts, to “like” a tweet. It was considered another insane way to ape Facebook, and while it didn’t really affect Twitter’s functionality, it still bothered people.

After all, you can use the action to say you saw a tweet, to say you think something is interesting, but not enough to retweet, to bookmark something or revisit it later, or even to highlighting something you think is stupid without saying it (here’s a longer thought on the idea) or, just maybe, to say you like something. Replacing all those different complex interactions with a glowing red heart and a “like” makes it seem like Twitter doesn’t understand how its different users view the service.

The While You Were Gone box that shows you tweets you’ve missed since you last logged in is a nice idea, in theory, but the problem is that there was already a way to see tweets you missed when you weren’t. weren’t logged in. called scrolling down. Ultimately, While You Were Gone seems like a way to help us spend less time on Twitter, and it also reduces the chances of stumbling across content you might have seen if you were scrolling through your timeline. And in all of this, there are rumors that Twitter may be removing its reverse chronological timeline and offering a Facebook-like feed instead.


There are things Twitter could do that users would like, like allowing people to edit tweets – Facebook has a nice solution where you can click on the tweet to see the original, so editing tweets won’t cannot be misused. Disabling hashtags is another Twitter feature where you need a third-party client, instead of being able to do it just from the official app. Even something as minor as setting the DM character limit is something Twitter has taken forever to do, despite DMs being sidelined and not affecting the core Twitter experience .

Many of the changes Twitter made over time were hostile to third-party developers – they might have helped Twitter improve and achieve massive growth, but Twitter has repeatedly restricted third-party developers.

Twitter is slowly turning into a social network where you can share a dozen photos of your dinner with detailed descriptions, in a single album. A place where you’ll see the same baby, vacation, and food scrapbooks when you log on in the morning and then again in the evening, interspersed with a few links about your favorite musician or movie star. In other words, Twitter turns into Facebook.

The problem is that Facebook already exists, and whether you like it or not, you have to admit that Facebook does a pretty good job of being Facebook. It’s not really a replacement for Twitter, and the same is true in reverse.


Changing stars to hearts is a minor symptom. Removing the character limit from tweets is more important, and getting rid of the reverse chronological timeline that makes Twitter so useful is a crazy idea. Except of course that every little change brings us closer to when the crazy idea feels like another little change.

Without a timeline that you can reliably browse for effective information, Twitter would be of no use in emergency situations like the Chennai floods. It would not be a reliable source of information during events such as the terrorist attacks in France, nor would it help people to follow and understand events as they unfold and develop. .

Yeah, there are a lot of people who use Twitter just as a place to let off steam, to share short updates on what they had for lunch, or to tell people there’s something stuck. between their teeth. But it has also become a place where meaningful conversations can take place between strangers, where you will meet and discover new people whose ideas inspire you and spark new thoughts.

Facebook, on the other hand, is a place that looks inward. It is a place where you are surrounded by the familiar and the comfortable. There’s a great need for these two experiences to co-exist, and as Twitter slowly erodes its identity, it’s starting to lose the things that made it appealing in the first place.

Yes, some people would love to post a 10,000 word ballad. They might even want to do it on Twitter. And there are plenty of ways to attach whatever you want and share it with your followers. They could just share a link to a blog post if they wanted. But when you look at your timeline, how many people do you see actually doing it? And how many times do you feel like, man, 140 characters is too little, I wanted to write a blog post but as an attachment to a tweet.

Twitter is fast. Twitter is concise and precise. Twitter is able to skim through a timeline and find out everything I need to know about the world, right away. Twitter is the answer to the question “what’s going on?” Twitter is not Facebook. At least I hope so.

That’s Twitter in 10,000 characters. Hopefully we won’t be able to post this entire article on Twitter.

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