Twitter relaxes 140 character rule; begins global rollout

Twitter relaxes 140 character rule; begins global rollout

Author | Abhinn Shreshtha | Wednesday, Sep 21,2016 8:16 AM

Twitter relaxes 140 character rule; begins global rollout

Twitter announced late Monday night that it will be relaxing its 140 character rule through a global roll out. Though the limit will not completely be removed, pictures, GIFs, videos, polls, etc. will no longer be counted within the limit.

This new policy was first announced officially in May and was considered even as far back as January when rumours began that Twitter was considering increasing the character limit to 10,000 (The limit for Direct Messages, the Twitter equivalent of private messages, had already been increased to 10,000). Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and one of the co-founders had to tweet to quell these rumours.

Confirming the news to exchange4media, a Twitter India spokesperson said, “Our goal is to allow everyone to do more with their 140 characters, and make Tweeting more intuitive, especially for new users who may find the behaviours confusing. Tweets were originally 140 character text messages. Over the years they’ve evolved to include photos, videos, polls, and more. Along the way those attachments have taken away from character space, so now we’re giving back some characters.” He did not confirm when the new policy would reach India.

Twitter has been facing increasing pressure from competitors like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc. With user growth not increasing fast enough for investors, it has fast-tracked the release of new features and products to generate more interest among user base. However, the Twitter spokesperson refused to be drawn into whether the latest change was a direct result of competition.

Though not as drastic as rumours earlier this year suggested, the change in policy is still a shift from Twitter’s core philosophy of brevity. When we had spoken to social media experts earlier this year about the expected relaxation of the character limit, there were concerns about how it would impact the platform’s core strengths.

Commenting on the recent announcement, Sanjay Mehta, CEO of Mirum India said, “I think it will increase creativity as people will have more room to play in their storytelling. 140 characters was, and has been, interesting and some of us will miss the crisp and short messages. Maybe many of us will continue to play in 140 characters out of habit but the fear is that some folks may start getting very boring with long, drawn messages.”

"The new move to remove the character count for images, GIFs, videos, polls and quote tweets will give brands the opportunity to squeeze in that bit of creativity when it comes to giving out CTAs. Apart from that, it is basically counting made easy for the social media executives,” opined Devin Kewlani, National Creative Director, FoxyMoron.

According to Gautamm Mehra, Chief Data Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network, the new move might work in Twitter’s favour at least from the user perspective as not everything can be condensed into 140 characters. “However, until twitter doesn’t get more personal they will struggle for user base. From a brand perspective, it will be a plus, but most importantly, it may result in better English for humanity,” he added.

In other news, Twitter recently announced that it would be halting global engineering work from its Bangalore development centre and will be laying off a portion of the employees. Though the exact number has not been confirmed, one media report suggests that the number could be around 20.

Twitter, meanwhile, is calling the move a part of the company's normal business review.  In a statement to media, the company said, "Engineering is a key part of our global company and we continue to focus our programs and efforts on improving the core product experience for our users worldwide. We thank the impacted individuals for their valuable contributions and are doing as much as we can to provide them a respectful exit from our company."

It further said that the company would continue to invest in 'key initiatives' to further expand audience, increase user engagement and drive revenue in India. 

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