Here’s Why Twitter Wants to Expand to 10,000 Characters

A Fortune Magazine article:

Rightly or wrongly, it has to find some way of competing with Facebook.

For some time now, Twitter has been talking—off the record, of course—about altering the standard 140-character restriction so that users can post longer messages. According to the latest reports from Re/code and the Wall Street Journal, it is now talking about increasing the limit to 10,000 characters, or almost 100 times the current maximum.

Depending on who you listen to, this is either a brilliantidea or the end of Twitter as we know it—another in a series of ill-advised steps leading to a Facebook-style clone that will almost certainly fail.

Complaints from hard-core Twitter users are nothing new. In fact, they are so common that they are almost a core feature of the product, whether it’s the response to a new format for retweets or the reaction to the recently-launched Moments news curation feature. Each time, users threaten to leave, but few actually follow through.

In a tweet of his own—which conspicuously features a screenshot of text that is much longer than 140 characters—Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey hinted at new features that would allow for longer tweets, although he said the “majority of tweets will always be short and sweet and conversational.”

There is a crucial point at the root of all this sound and fury, and it’s not that Twitter TWTR -0.64% simply doesn’t care about its core users. It’s that those users are no longer of much help to the company, unless they significantly increase their engagement, which seems unlikely at best.

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