There was this one eventful day in January 2016 when Twitter announced its bomb — it was going to expand its famous 140 character-limit to up to 10,000 because the Twitteratti was finding new ways to make the most of every tweet. Users were creating ‘tweet storms’ where they strung a series of tweets together in numeric succession to make a loud, long statement. There were also some other ingenious users who would attach screenshots of longer texts in an attempt to circumvent the character restriction. This led to the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, to tweet a screenshot of text that had 1,317 characters, explaining his thinking behind wanting to expand the character limit. He said “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.” “Twitter will never lose that feeling of speed, creativity and brevity,” he added.
After much public debilitation and twittering, the verdict is out – the 140 character-limit is here to stay. Jack Dorsey stated that this limit was too big a part of Twitter’s identity to let go. “It allows for of-the moment brevity”, he commented. Expanding the character limit might have helped expanding Twitter’s audience, but it also could have potentially undermined the real-time, quick and free-flowing culture of the network.
The month of March marks Twitter’s 10th Anniversary. On March 21, 2006, Dorsey tweeted the network’s first tweet, “Just setting up my twttr.”
“Twitter’s always been about controls, people can follow whoever they want. And it’s our job to make sure they see the most important things and the things that matter to them,” Dorsey said. “There are tweets that promote violence, which is against our terms of service, so people have controls to block and people have controls to mute.”
There is a never-ending goal to get more and more people to sign up on Twitter. The biggest challenge the site faces is to maintain a culture of free speech while curbing harassment and infringement of Twitter’s policies by external groups. New features such as the digest-like ‘Moments’, which helps stream line the constant flow of information and a recently added option to use algorithms to choose the order of tweets in user timelines aim to make Twitter easier to use.