It is my belief the fundamental charm of Twitter is as much its brevity as its immediacy. Writing in 140 characters or less has become an art form for users. A skill. The national news, entertainment, weather and sports media can’t get enough daily Tweets to put up and across their screens and sites.
The powers-to-be at Twitter have floated the idea in the media this week of doing what they apparently have already been allowing on Private (Direct) Messages since July…a 10,000 character limit where users simply click a link to expand a Tweet and see the rest of the Tweet’s text.
Why change? Why take such a risk alienating users?
Well…to turn a profit for the first time might be at the top of the list. It appears growth has slowed and its stock has subsequently declined some 40 percent from where it stood last summer.
Twitter – and some in the media – claim at least part of its user base truly want this. They want to eliminate having to design “Tweetstorms” where users are forced to send out multiple Tweets to get one thought or message or whatever out.
My guess is the powers-to-be wish to make room for advertisers to more easily use the service. And make more money.
I had two “runs” on Twitter. One several years ago when it first came out and one a couple of years back. I didn’t stick with it either time for a variety of reasons. But in those moments of participation I did get a big kick out of the challenge of sending out a well-crafted, brief message.
So why post about a service I don’t use now? Because as a Journalism Grad (albeit in a galaxy far, far away) and having a continued interest in all things media I am eager to see what happens if this comes to pass. So many media organizations show Tweets.
Reporting Tweets has become a way of life.
Now, if the character limit is expanded to this extent and someone sends out a gigantic Tweet someone at each of these media outlets will have to parse through it all, deciding what to pull out…and put out.
When quoting Tweets now there are no editorial decisions to be made. Sure…a chance the user saying post-Tweet they were taken out of context. Some users even say someone took over their account when things don’t go favorably. But the point is just like fast food, the media can pretty much take a Tweet and run with it. Unlike fast food, at absolutely no cost.
What will happen if this actually happens will fundamentally have to change the way media reports on Twitter activity. They’ll have to read the entire Tweet, “edit” it, etc. and at that point you then have yet another example of the media dictating what is newsworthy and what is not. And in fairness to all Twitter users, a great case for saying if they send out one exceeding the current limit and it isn’t shown in its entirety they were quoted out of context because…drum roll here…their entire Tweet wasn’t presented.
I don’t particularly enjoy being bombarded with Tweets as part of my evening news, entertainment, weather and sports coverage. But I do think doing this will rob Twitter of its very soul.
I wonder how the majority of users really feel?
I will be interested to see how the media reacts if this goes down…and the character limit on Twitter goes up.