A few weeks ago, the relatively small crowd of mentally unstable media professionals who spend all day looking at Twitter received some alarming news: Twitter was going to raise its iconic 140-character limit. The new limit, 10,000 characters, would be more than enough for even the most verbose of the commentariat.
Friday morning, CEO Jack Dorsey told the Today show that Twitter was not eliminating or raising the character limit. “It’s staying,” he declared. “It’s a good constraint for us, and it allows for ‘of the moment.’”
Sure, okay, everyone can rest easy, I guess? Except that this changes nothing.
Here was the not-quite-confirmed idea, according to Recode in January:
Twitter is currently testing a version of the product in which tweets appear the same way they do now, displaying just 140 characters, with some kind of call to action that there is more content you can’t see. Clicking on the tweets would then expand them to reveal more content. The point of this is to keep the same look and feel for your timeline, although this design is not necessarily final, sources say.
Basically, tweets larger than 140 characters would seem to function in the same way that multimedia does on the service currently. Users click to expand the content. There was never going to be a point where Twitter would throw an unabridged, overlong personal essay in your face. Expanded text would function in the same way that richer content like photos and videos and polls do now; 10,000-character tweets were not going to change the look of your general Twitter feed more than any other type of attachment.
Which is to say that Dorsey’s statement on NBC this morning means nothing. Twitter can still technically keep its 140-character limit and still allow users to write lengthy posts. That was always the plan.